We note with grave concern the joblessness going on in our country, and particularly the casual and usual arrogant approach the Patriotic Front (PF) government is taking in addressing this challenge, especially in the mining sector which is among the major employers of our people.
As UPND, we call on the PF government and the mining sector, particularly Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to do everything possible to save jobs and not allow more of our people to be sent in the streets through massive retrenchments.
The following actions must immediately be instituted to save jobs at KCM and other mining businesses.
1. KCM should seek other ways and alternative cost saving measures other than retrenching workers, especially in the face of the already existing high unemployment levels in the country. Further, KCM should seriously consider re-assigning workers to other relevant departments or business units within the mine other than retrenching them.
2. On its part, the PF government has the responsibility of lowering the cost of doing business, not just for KCM, but for other mining companies and businesses as well, so as to enhance employment creation. For example, the PF should re-instate the fuel subsidy which was removed and is now a burden to our people and business sector. There are other many ways a responsible government can institute to lower the cost of doing business to save existing jobs and enhance employment creation.
3. The PF government, in liaison with other stakeholders has a responsibility to negotiate reassignment of workers who cannot be maintained at KCM to other mining companies, projects/programmes and other business sectors of our economy. This is possible with a government that has ideas and interest in the welfare of its citizens.
We urge the PF government to be serious in handling such national issues as opposed to the usual lies, threats and trickery such as on the two-year recruitment and wage freeze that was announced in this year’s budget that will escalate poverty in the country.
We know PF has been telling lies to the Zambian people from their time in opposition even on matters of life and death concerning our people that should not be treated with the usual deception and trickery, like they have done with the back-dated Pay As You Earn (PAYE) relief that was promised to miners yet it has again been charged.
As UPND, we will do everything possible within our powers and ability to protect miners and other Zambian workers that have suffered for a long time.