UNIONSED Kagem Emerald mine workers yesterday downed tools after management refused to increase their salaries.
The workers, who are demanding 35 per cent housing, 20 per cent hardship allowances and 50 per cent salary increment, downed tools when management refused to heed to their demands.
Shockingly, Mineworkers Union of Zambia general secretary Joseph Chewe was not aware that his members had downed tools.
When contacted for a comment, Chewe said he would not comment on the matter, as he was not aware of the strike.
He claimed that he was in a meeting and he asked for time to find out about the situation at the mine situated in Lufwanyama.
“Let me call the chairman, I was in a meeting and I am sure you saw that I was not picking phones. I have also seen a missed call from Kagem, let me just confirm,” said Chewe.
By press time, Chewe had not furnished details of the protest.
But the Emerald and Semi Precious Stones Mining Association of Zambia president Victor Kalesha commended the workers at Kagem for conducting a peaceful demonstration demanding for improved conditions of service other than revolting to destructive protests.
Kalesha stated that his association was happy with the workers’ peaceful conduct as they did not run wild, destroying property.
“ We urge other companies across the country to emulate the workers at Kagem not to resort to violent protests when demanding for their labour rights. We also want to this opportunity to advise the Ministry of Labour to intensify on their inspections of companies to find out the demands of people unlike waiting for such a time of protest.
We are expectant as an association that Kagem management and the union will strike a better deal out this protest,” Kalesha stated.
“Surely indeed conditions of service should be looked into to meet the current cost of living. We want to request our members to adhere to labour laws for the benefit of human capital or human resource satisifaction,” Kalesha stated in a statement this evening. “This will improve the output of production that will attract good auctions.”
Kalehs stated his association was optimistic that Kagem would meet the workers’ demands on a win-win situation since it was a good corporate institution.
“We would also want to urge our unions to be firm in their negotiations so as not to allow such protests to take off,” stated Kalesha.
“We are mindful that the workers at Kagem have raised the outcry over the auction sales they see in public domains by their employer. But we are also mindful that the cost of mining operations is so enormous hence the need to negotiate a win-win situation that both the employees and employers are satisfied.”