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Kansanshi drags mine unions to court over bonus scheme dispute

KANSANSHI Mining Plc has dragged the three mineworkers unions to court over a disputed bonus scheme.

According to a notice of complaint filed in the Ndola High Court, Industrial Relations Division, Kansanshi Mine, through their lawyers Charles Siamutwa Legal Practitioners, has sued Joseph Chewe in his capacity as general secretary of the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ), Stephen Mukupa as national secretary of the National Union of Miners and Allied workers (NUMAW) and Yosam Nyirongo as general secretary of the United Mineworkers of Zambia (UMUZ).

According to the notice, the complainant and the respondents entered into a collective agreement dated October 11, 2016, which provided under clause 13 that a committee would be set up for the purpose of finalising and agreeing a new bonus scheme to be operated outside the collective agreement.

“Pursuant to clause 13 of the collective agreement, a committee was constituted, finalised and agreed the new bonus scheme as mandated by the parties…The first respondent, Mineworkers Union of Zambia has disregarded the bonus scheme finalised and agreed by the committee constituted for that purpose in breach of clause 13 of the collective agreement,” read the notice in part.

It stated that the second and third respondents, NUMAW and UMUZ, agreed to the implementation of the new bonus scheme and signed minutes and also an addendum incorporating the new scheme.

Kansanshi Mine stated that it accordingly implemented the new bonus scheme in its payroll systems but the respondents were attempting to disrupt the implementation of the new bonus scheme and in doing so, had created tension in the work place, which could trigger an industrial action.

The mine is seeking declaration that the respondents were legally bound by the decision of the committee established, pursuant to clause 13 of the collective agreement, to finalise and agree the new bonus scheme.

Kansanshi is further seeking a declaration that as a complainant, it was at liberty to implement the new bonus scheme outside the collective agreement between the two parties agreed and finalised by the committee established for that purpose.

It is further seeking an injunction to restrain anyone from interfering with and impeding the implementation of the new bonus scheme.

In October last year, the Mineworkers Union of Zambia wrote to the Labour Commissioner requesting for an intervention in the impasse surrounding the bonus scheme at Kansanshi.

In a letter dated October 12, 2016 signed by MUZ deputy secretary general George Mumba, the union stated that the permanent committee of the bargaining unit reconvened on Tuesday, October 11, 2016 to discuss clause 13 of the current Kansanshi Mining collective agreement on bonus scheme which had always been part of the collective terms and conditions for the Kansanshi unionised employees.

“The earlier permanent committee sitting of July 20, 2016 failed to resolved the management’s proposal of removing the bonus clause from the collective bargaining agreement. Therefore, after deliberations, MUZ found it difficult to agree to the proposal and requested for an adjournment to go and first brief the members before they could either agree or disagree to the proposal, but management, NUMAW and UMUZ did not want this consultation but to conclude without consulting the members,” Mumba stated.

He stated that Kansanshi, NUMAW and UMUZ did not heed the advice and decided to disjoint MUZ and went ahead to sign.

“In our view, MUZ being party to the recognition agreement with Kansanshi Mine, and having participated in the said process of collective bargaining, questions the validity of the signed agreement without MUZ, as part of the process. We feel our views must have been respected because it borders on workers’ rights to participate in free bargaining process with Kansanshi [which] NUMAW, UMUZ should have respected without going ahead to sign. This is a clear recipe for industrial unrest,” stated Mumba. “We therefore request your office for urgent arbitration in the above stand-off and further request your office not to approve addendum in order to allow meaningful dialogue and direction from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in the interest of workers at Kansanshi and also to foster industrial harmony.”

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