Saturday, April 12, 2014

2,000 FQM workers reject 25% pay rise
By Misheck Wangwe in Kitwe
Sat 28 Dec. 2013, 14:00 CAT

OVER 2,000 unionised workers at First Quantum Mining have rejected the 25 per cent salary increment offered to them covering a period of three years, saying it is clear manipulation.

But FQM management says it attaches great importance to the welfare of employees and was making serious attempts to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. The government last week declined to process the 2014 collective agreement signed between First Quantum Mining and the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers.

The agreement, which the Mineworkers Union of Zambia had refused to sign, entailed that NUMAW members were to get a 25 per cent salary increment covering a period of three years.

The workers were to get a 10 percent in 2014, eight percent in 2015 and seven percent in 2016.

In a collective statement signed by employees in various departments of FQM, the miners stated that they were happy that the government through the labour commissioner Cecilia Kamanga had refused to acknowledge and process the new agreement.

Miners from both MUZ and NUMAW said they want FQM management to withdraw the three-year collective agreement deal and revert to one-year deals that had been signed over the years.

"We cannot tie ourselves to a three-year deal with mediocre and mockery increments. From our understanding, this deal means that if FQM makes good profits in the next three years, we will not be part of it and besides, even the increments are not substantial; 10 per cent for 2014, eight per cent for 2015 and seven per cent in 2016. These are not figures that we can accept knowing too well that our company will be making profits in the coming years," the petition read in part.

They implored the government to closely monitor the manoeuvres being made by some stakeholders, saying if the document was processed and allowed to become binding, there would only be a seven per cent salary increment at FQM in 2016 which was the year of the general elections.

But according to an approved memorandum circulated by Ernesto Levi Fetalvero from the Resource Optimisation Team addressed to employees on Monday, FQM management indicated that it remained committed to ensuring that the workers were not adversely affected by the issue that was before the labour commissioner.

"In a bid to try and resolve this matter, unions met the labour commissioner on Friday December 20 in Lusaka. Despite discussions at the meeting to date, this matter remains unresolved and management understands that unions were to have discussions to try and resolve their differing views. Employees would be aware that the current collective agreement expires on December 31, 2013. Management remains committed to ensuring that the workers are not affected by these developments," FQM management stated in a memo.

When contacted, MUZ general secretary Joseph Chewe said the union was in receipt of various correspondences and concerns from all stakeholders over the collective agreement which they refused to sign at FQM and a comprehensive statement would be issued at an appropriate time.

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