THE Mineworkers Union of Zambia has strongly opposed Mopani Copper Mines’ intention to lay-off close to 5, 000 mineworkers.
Last evening, Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) public relations manager Nebert Mulenga announced in a press statement that the mining firm had plans to downsize operations which would result into 4, 700 workers losing jobs due to continued restriction of power supply by the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC).
We are engaging the unions and other stakeholders to see how we can mitigate the effects of this unavoidable course of action,
Mulenga disclosed that Mopani had continued to bargain with the CEC and Zesco but that the company was incapable of maintaining its workforce without power supply to its operations.
But addressing journalists in Lusaka today, MUZ president Nkole Chishimba called for speedy dialogue between MCM and CEC on the power supply agreement (PSA) negotiations between the two parties.
MUZ vehemently rejects these intentions to cut 4, 700 jobs as reported in the press statement [from MCM]. MUZ also calls on government to intervene in the matter so that MCM does not resort to job cuts. The move appears intended to intimidate and blackmail the affected stakeholders and unfortunately, workers seem to be easy fix and victims of Mopani and CEC’s failure to negotiate the power supply agreement in good faith,
It is the duty of the union to make sure that we protect jobs at Mopani and any other company which intends to shed off labour.
He warned the nation on the consequences of the impact of the impasse between MCM and CEC on the Copperbelt Province, particularly in Kitwe and Mufulira.
“Our memories are still fresh on the redundancies that were done in 2015 involving 4, 300 mine workers and therefore, the nation cannot afford to lose a further 4, 700 mine workers as this will push them into abject poverty and squalor,” Chishimba said.
“We call on government to stop MCM on these threats of job cuts and guarantee the employment of the mine workers at Mopani. MCM could save tremendously if they cut jobs of expatriates rather than touching the local workforce, thereby reversing the spirit of job creation for the locals in the mines.”
And Chishimba, who is also president of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), pointed out that the government directed MCM and CEC to negotiate the power increment which was a commercial transaction and the union quickly cautioned that such should not translate into cutting jobs.
MUZ is pleased that other mining companies have taken on board the power increment by mitigating this cost using other options than cutting jobs. Our fears are precipitated by the fact that the number of workers to be affected by the lay-off if Mopani went ahead with its plan will be higher due to the large number of contractors who are carrying out jobs with Mopani. We therefore maintain that the two parties should quickly resolve the impasse that is between them amicably so that the wheels of mining can start turning again,