Wednesday, June 12, 2013

PF labour chair writes Kabimba over KCM
By Henry Sinyangwe in Lusaka and Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe
Tue 04 June 2013, 14:01 CAT

PATRIOTIC Front chairman for labour and social development Davies Mwila has written to party secretary general Wynter Kabimba to table before the next central committee meeting Konkola Co-pper Mine's intention to prune 2,000 workers.

And a mining company JSI Mining and Contractors says the government will be justified to temporarily take over the operations of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) if the investors decided to leave.

In a letter to Kabimba dated June 3, 2013, Mwila stated that the issue needed attention and action to insulate the party from reprisals and embarrassments.

"Our party manifesto propels creation of pensionable employment with improved social benefits for our people and maintain already existing employment and it should therefore be noted that the current actions exhibited by KCM is a total contradiction of our electoral platform and party manifesto and has a potential of erasing our positive employment gains with the propensity to generate negative scores in terms of our part performance in the sector," Mwila stated.

He stated that a negative employment ratio would be recorded thereby eroding confidence and morale among Zambians.

"The economic benefits being enjoyed by the KCM as opposed to the social and economic benefits to our people … are not commensurate with the latter (KCM), enjoying a huge piece of the cake," Mwila said.
He said the reasons advanced in the memorandum for the impeding and preceding actions did not hold any water.

KCM cited the downward trend in copper prices, increase in petroleum prices, high cost of labour, the gradual increase in the company's electricity bills, policy changes and increase in mineral royalty tax as the reasons for intended job cuts.

And JSI managing director Ronald Manenga said it was sad that some investors in the mining sector were taking the government and Zambian people for granted over the operations of the mines.

He said looking at the reasons cited by KCM, major among them, the fall of copper price at the London Metal Exchange from about US$9,000 per tonne to an average US $ 7,000, Manenga said with the current price of metals at the London Metal Exchange, any meaningful investor would not rush to retrench the workers but would strive to sustain operations.

"We have seen in the past how KCM has blackmailed governments before. In 2009 when KCM decided to deregister most of its local suppliers, they did that with impunity. They decided to deregister companies without any security concerns on the pretext that they wanted to produce on lower costs, they wanted to lower production costs and they brought in issues of outsourcing. People protested but they went ahead but all this thing of outsourcing never worked," Manenga said.

"The deputy minister of Mines Richard Musukwa has been tough on these issues and we expect other senior government officials to do the same to protect people's jobs and the interests of the nation in KCM."

He said it was high time Zambians claimed their stake in the mines by ensuring that people were protected from unfair dismissals because if it was allowed to happen, the local economy would be destroyed and many people on the Copperbelt would be plunged into serious poverty.

In a letter dated May 23, 2013, addressed to the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ), the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and United Mineworkers Union of Zambia (UMUZ), KCM vice-president human capital David Kaunda stated that the company had been impacted by a number of economic and legacy issues that have made it imperative to review its operations for its continued viability.

But the government through the Ministry of Mines deputy minister Richard Musukwa said the plans to retrench over 2,000 workers at KCM was unacceptable and only meant to embarrass the government and all stakeholders involved.

Musukwa said the move was unsustainable because the reasons that were advanced by the mine management was principally pure arrogance adding that the government would not be blackmailed by mining houses like KCM.

"The workers on the Copperbelt, the miners have sacrificed a lot for a long time and they brought the PF into power. It must be stated very clearly that we will not accept this because KCM has no moral obligation to reduce the workforce," Musukwa said.

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