A Strike by Sino hydro Chinese state company that is constructing the 120MW Itezhi Tezhi power station has continued and government is worried that the work stoppage will delay the project completion.
The strike which began yesterday involves more than 450 Sino hydro workers who work in different sections of the hydroelectric power plant construction.
The workers who were yesterday advised to go back for work as government was discussing their issue have vacated the site and camped at the district commissioner’s office.
A heavy presence of police looked on as the Sino hydro workers staged a protest at the District commissioner’s office today.
Itezhi Tezhi district commissioner Mr. George Sichula has expressed worry that the project which has been moving on schedule may be delayed and cost increased.
Mr. Sichula said that yesterday his office and the deputy minister of agriculture and livestock who is the area Member of Parliament for Itezhi Tezhi Greyford Monde held a “round table talks” with Itezhi Tezhi Power Corporation (ITPC) and Sino Hydro management to resolve the matter.
“We are surprised that after promising us that they would call off strike today, the workers have instead walked out of the site and camped at our office” Mr. Sichula said.
Mr. Sichula said that as government, he was worried that continued strike may stall the project which is schedule to be completed by next year.
He assured the striking workers that provincial labour officers and minister of labour will be in the district to resolve their matter.
And after addressing the workers, representatives of the workers were meeting with the District commissioner in his office for talks aimed at ending the work stoppage.
But Sino hydro commercial manager Mr. He Zhijun said during a meeting involving Sino hydro, ITPC and areas Member of Parliament Greyford Monde and District commissioner George Sichinga said the solution to the problem was not easy as it implies reviewing the contract signed in 2009.
Mr. He Zhijun yesterday could not back down to the demands of the workers saying his firm was compliant with the Zambian minimum wage legislation and that all workers were paid way above the minimum wage.
He said that the firm has increased the wages for the workers twice since the project commenced.
Mr. He said that the workers’ demands cannot be met unless the current contract they signed with Itezhi Tezhi Power Corporation (ITPC) is reviewed.
‘We signed our contract in 2009 and since then a lot of factors such increase in cement prices, transportation costs and depreciation of the local currency have all proven costly to the project, ” he said.