The Zambia Non-Ferrous Metal Exploration (ZNFME) Company limited in Luanshya has been evading the remittance of workers’ Pension contributions with the National Pension Schemes Authority (NAPSA) amounting to over K900, 000 over a three Year period. And the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) has accused the company for flouting labour laws regarding the minimum wage and general conditions of employment.
NUMAW Luanshya Branch Chairman Lloyd Mwambazi told ZANIS in Luanshya today that the company was fraudulently deducting pension contributions among other deductions which they were not remitting to the pension scheme authority. Mwambazi disclosed that even when most workers were deducted for over three year, a check with NAPSA revealed that workers had only accrued three months contributions which proved to be inconsistent.
“The company has a serious problem, they are stealing from employees, denying them access to pay slips so that they cannot understand their monthly deductions. They are also disregarding government’s stance on the minimum wage and general conditions of employment by paying workers salaries as low as K700 after working for over 12 hours underground” Mwambazi charged.
He further alleged that the company recently unfairly dismissed 10 employees who included three union members for speaking out on the matter. Mwambazi has since appealed to government to intervene in the matter and improve the monitoring and inspection of mine operations in the country. And ZNFME Acting Managing Director Engineer Kun Tsao said the non remittance of the pension scheme was as a result of a mere misunderstanding of the Zambian laws by the company.
Engineer Tsao said the company has since paid over K300, 000 to workers in form of refund for the 2011 and 2012 deductions after workers downed tools last month. He disclosed that the company would in the next three weeks settle the outstanding pension contribution amounting to over K600, 000 to NAPSA which accrued over the three years of non remittance of pension contribution.
Engineer Tsao however denied having flouted any labour laws, saying the workers were taking advantage of the situation by making unnecessary demands. He further said the fired workers were dismissed on valid grounds as they proved incompetent and urged the workers to work diligently as they were being paid in accordance with the Zambian laws.
He also noted that with effect from February month end, all workers would be given monthly payment slips to avoid future misunderstandings with management. Meanwhile, NAPSA Luanshya Branch Manager Christopher Msoni confirmed the development, saying the Authority has engaged the company on the matter.
“I can confirm that we have received the complaint and we have actually held talks with both management and the workers but I will not dwell so much into the matter because it is still under discussion and a resolution has not yet been passed,” said Mr Msoni. Mr. Msoni however emphasized the need for companies to comply with the NAPSA ACT of 1996 chapter 40 which compels employers to remit pension schemes to the Authority.
Last month, NAPSA officials unearthed the scam when they visited ZNFME a contractor operating at Baluba mines in Luanshya to ascertain why the company was not remitting Pension contributions for over three years. The move resulted in workers downing tools in protest against the non-remittance of their pension contributions and discrepancies in salaries. The workers were also challenging management to pay back the money deducted from them over the three years.