Friday, December 11, 2009
By Mutuna Chanda in Kitwe
Fri 11 Dec. 2009, 04:01 CAT
MINEWORKERS Union of Zambia (MUZ) and National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) have rejected Konkola Copper Mines’ three per cent salary increment offer. The two unions have declared a dispute in the ongoing negotiations for improved conditions of service with KCM.
Briefing the press yesterday, MUZ president Rayford Mbulu expressed disappointment that the mining giant could offer such an infinitesimal increment when copper prices had risen to US $7,150 per tonne on the world market.
However, he appealed to mine workers to remain calm and allow the unions and KCM management to exhaust all the channels of the collective bargaining process as provided for by the law.
“From the manner we are proceeding; our negotiations with KCM are not giving us inspiration,” Mbulu said. “There’s extreme hopelessness. We are at three per cent offered by KCM and the unions are at 25 per cent. There is a difference of 22 per cent. Our position is that of extreme worry...in four meetings we are at three per cent and the company has said that’s the final position.”
He said he expected any normal company such as KCM which was recovering from recent industrial unrest relating to salary increments and concerns over other conditions of work to have made a better offer.
“We are not convinced that KCM can offer three per cent when copper prices have soared to US $7,150,” Mbulu said.
He said during the time of rock bottom copper prices when the global economic downturn caught the Zambian mining industry off its guard, the two unions had proposed to KCM a number of measures in which to enhance production and cut costs but that these were not heeded.
Mbulu said the unions had asked KCM to repair infrastructure and buy new equipment to improve production processes and also cut on the number of expatriate workers.
He said the 165 expatriates at KCM earning colossal sums of money were not adding any value to the company.
Mbulu said during the ZCCM days when the mining industry employed a total of 65,000 workers, there were less than 100 expatriates and wondered what the justification was for KCM, which was a fraction of the mining conglomerate, to have 165 foreign workers.
He said there was no need to have expatriates mainly of Asian origin to perform spokesperson, human resource, finance and metallurgical functions because there were many Zambians trained by local institutions who could work in those positions.
Mbulu criticised the government for letting down Zambians by allowing expatriates in positions that locals could occupy.
He questioned the criteria that the Ministry of Home Affairs used in issuing work permits to such expatriates.
Mbulu demanded a stop to the trend of employing expatriates when locals could perform the functions.