Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sata advises miners to fight for better conditions of service

Sata advises miners to fight for better conditions of service
By George Chellah
Tue 17 Nov. 2009, 04:01 CAT

PATRIOTIC Front (PF) leader Michael Sata (above) yesterday urged miners to fight for better conditions of service from President Rupiah Banda’s administration.

Commenting on the protracted differences between the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and President Banda, Sata said if miners just sat, nothing would happen.

“Improving the conditions of service for miners will be a pipedream as long as Rupiah Banda is in power. The MMD is benefiting more from these investors and the Chinese,” Sata said.

“Miners have to fight like a two months old baby if they have to get something from Rupiah Banda’s government. When a two months old baby cries, parents will have to jump like a sardine in a saucepan to attend to the child.”

He said there was no way investors could respect Zambians because the government was the worst employer.

“The government is the worst employer. How can the so-called investors respect us? The so-called investors are funding the MMD elections,” he said.

Sata said as long as President Banda was in office, the people should not expect any improvements in their conditions of service.

“Rupiah awarded himself hefty conditions when he came in power,” he said.

He complained that Statutory Instrument number 39 was very discriminatory where certain people have been awarded better conditions.

Sata also said even the foreign service was full of cadres.

“The foreign service is supposed to be for career diplomats or civil servants but the whole foreign service is full of cadres,” he said.

He called for the abolition of the Public Service Commission and the diplomatic school.

On Monday, Nchanga member of parliament Wylbur Simuusa called on Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to appreciate workers' efforts by paying them reasonably.

Simuusa said KCM should pass on the benefits the government gave them to the miners.

He said KCM and other mining companies had taken miners for granted.

“My heart bleeds to see that the situation in the mining sector has deteriorated despite my several pleas to this government. I've always said that this government has made all mining companies disrespect Zambia's human capital by allowing these mining companies to abuse their workers,” Simuusa said.

“This government has given a lot of incentives to the mining sector, one of them the abolition of the windfall tax on the mines. Now, we all know that copper prices have soared at the London Metal Exchange. This is a boost to the mining companies which should pass on the same benefits to employees by giving them reasonable wages.”

Simuusa said mining companies had no excuse for them to continue giving their workers slave wages.

Last week, MUZ secretary general Oswell Munyenyembe said President Banda had failed to inspire miners during his one year in office.

However, President Banda's special assistant for press and public relations Dickson Jere condemned Munyenyembe, saying the government had done a lot to revive the country's mining sector.

But MUZ reiterated Munyenyembe's statement and added that it was a true reflection of the union's position on the challenges faced by miners in the country.

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