MOPANI Copper Mines (MCM) has allegedly indicated its intentions of laying-off more than 4,000 of the more than 7,000 unionized workers because of increased load-shedding, low copper prices at the London Metal Exchange and the depreciation of the Kwacha.
But the four Mine workers unions have objected to the lay-off, saying it was too big a number and if they were laid-off, it would worsen poverty levels in the country.
Speaking at a joint press briefing at Katilungu House in Kitwe yesterday, Mine worker Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Nkole Chishimba said during a meeting with Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) management in Kitwe yesterday that the mining company indicated it wanted to lay-off more than 4,000 miners
The press briefing was also attended by the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) president James Chansa, United Miners Union of Zambia (UMUZ) president Wisdom Ngwira MUZ and Zambia United Nurses Organization (ZUNO) officials.
“As you know, the mining industry is now full of activities and it is important that through you, the media, we inform the public or the nation of what is happening. We also wish to inform you of the position of the union regarding what is happening in the industry.
“We have been holding a series of meetings with Mopani regarding the future of our members and how Mopani plans to handle or manage the crisis in this time of low copper prices, load-shedding and depreciation of the Kwacha. So when we went for a meeting this morning, we were told that they intend to lay-off 4, 000 miners,” Mr Chishimba said
But Mr Chishimba said the four unions in the mining industry objected to the laying-off of more than 4,000 miners because such a move would worsen poverty levels in the country.
He also said laying-off more than 4,000 miners would leave a devastating and indelible scar in the lives of men and women who have worked hard to develop the mining industry.
“As unions in the mining industry, we have objected to the intentions of Mopani to lay-off more than 4,000 miners and we think there is a better way of handling this crisis than laying-off such a big number of miners.
“If these miners are laid off, they are not guaranteed that they will be recalled once the situation improves. So if they are laid off, it will leave them devastated. So for us, as a union, job losses are the last option. As partners, they are not supposed to inform us about job losses, but engage us and respect our response and suggestions or views,” Mr Chishimba said.
He said Government should be action oriented on issues of job losses in the mining industry, instead of just assuring miners that they will never be job losses when mining companies were planning to lay-off miners.
“Government must intervene and be action oriented in dealing with the problem of impending job losses in the mining companies, instead of just assuring that there will be no job losses when mining companies are planning to lay-off workers.
“We expect government to bring mining companies and unions together to find a solution to the problem. As a union, we are trying our best and Government must do its best in intervening in the problem,” He said.