MINERS from Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) in Chililabombwe, Chingola and Kitwe yesterday stormed the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) head offices in Kitwe where they protested over the planned lay-off of 2, 000 workers by the mining giant.
The over 50 miners clad in black attire and led by their branch officials from all the three unions, MUZ, National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and the United Mineworkers Union of Zambia (UMUZ) converged in Kitwe to press upon their national leaders and Government not to allow KCM go ahead with the planned downsizing of labour.
Malambo Malambo who spoke on behalf of the three union members said the demonstration was aimed at expressing their displeasure as miners over KCM planned action to downsize labour for no apparent reason.
Malambo said it was unjustifiable for KCM management to attribute their planned downsizing to workers not meeting their targets.
“It is not true that KCM employees are failing to meet their targets. It is because of management’s failure to provide tools and equipment, change of contractors which takes time for them to mobilize and settle,” Malambo said.
He said the decline in production levels at KCM was not as a result of workers but management itself which had engaged contractors that were ill-qualified.
“Ninety per cent of the work at KCM is done by contractors and why should they blame workers for low productivity,” he asked.
Malambo said KCM employees had sacrificed a lot in helping management put up several projects that include Konkola Deep Mining Project, Nchanga smelter, Konkola concentrator and many others and that for the company to just to layoff that huge number at once was immoral and unacceptable.
He accused KCM management of trying to use the retrenchment as a tool to negotiate for mineral loyalty tax and increased electricity tariffs.
MUZ president Nkole Chishimba urged the miners to remain calm but at the same time be productive as the union, Government and KCM management were engaging in dialogue over the matter.
And his NUMAW counterpart James Chansa assured the miners that the union would not let them down because they had an obligation of not just negotiating for salary increment and improved conditions of service but also to defend the workers.