Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MUZ accuses KCM of scheming to weaken it
By Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe
Fri 30 Aug. 2013, 14:00 CAT

A ROW has erupted between MUZ and KCM management with the former accusing the mining giant of making malicious and provocative schemes to divide and weaken the union.

KCM has however refused to comment or respond to the accusations. Briefing the media yesterday, Mineworkers Union of Zambia president Nkole Chishimba alleged that Konkola Copper Mines was making serious but deliberate anomalies to the subscriptions of over 3,000 employees who are members of MUZ, a move meant to punish, discredit and weaken the union and its strong stance on many issues that affect the operations of the mining company.

"This problem that is being sustained by KCM started in July. KCM remitted members' subscription to the MUZ head office account as usually the case. The amount of money involved was within the usual levels that the union receives each month. Little did the union head office realise that though the figures appeared to be normal and that KCM met its agreement obligation in terms of distribution, monthly subscriptions were not deducted from MUZ members' wages as there was no official communication from the union," Chishimba said.

He explained that when the problem emerged and it came to the attention of MUZ, efforts were made by the union to find out what led to such unprecedented levels of anomalies, whether they arose from a problem in the payroll system and why only MUZ members were affected when the systems of other unions remained clean.

Chishimba said at the time, there was need for urgent verification and reconciliation because the matter involved three parties, the subscriber, the remitter, which in this case was KCM management and the recipient MUZ, which procedure, in the union's view, was the way to go when faced with such challenges.

"Through a phone call to KCM, a senior management representative indicated that they were ready to meet with MUZ on Tuesday this week. On the material day, the union braced itself and gathered at the agreed venue but KCM officials did not show up and no one gave reasons. This is unacceptable…the union has the moral duty to protect its members from any inconvenience which is not their own making," he said.

Chishimba said the refusal by KCM management to meet MUZ demonstrated just how the mining company disrespected the union and how ready they were to provoke the workers and their leadership.

He said the union had cause to believe that KCM had intent to weaken MUZ and drive away membership.

"There is also cause to believe that the company intended to provoke workers unto resorting to industrial action so that they dismiss them from employment. MUZ therefore urges its membership to remain steadfast during this turbulence as it is just a passing phase," Chishimba said.

He said KCM had no regard for workers' rights and must put its house in order.

Chishimba said MUZ would not take any blame for whatever would happen as the mining company had continued to ignore its role.

But KCM public relations manager Joy Sata refused to comment on the matter when contacted.

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