THE mineworkers unions have expressed gratitude to President Edgar Lungu for the manner he has intervened in helping mitigate the impact of job losses among the retrenched Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) miners who have been given some tax relief by Government.
Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) General Secretary Joseph Chewe said the retrenched miners have all been given some tax relief by the President who has stopped Government from taxing K18, 000 ex-gratia given to MCM employees declared redundant in the wake of the current economic down-turn.
Mr Chewe said this at a MUZ, National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW), United Mineworkers Union of Zambia (UMUZ) and Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) joint press briefing in Kitwe yesterday.
The MUZ general secretary who was giving the routine updates on matters surrounding the affairs of miners, said apart from the pension money of two-month salary pay by the number of years of service, the unions also negotiated for an K18, 000 ex-gratia for each of the retrenched miner, which they had asked to be a stand alone payment.
He said to this effect, the unions asked President Lungu to allow the retrenched miners to be paid K18, 000 without Government taxing the money, as a way of giving the ex-employees some form of relief.
“President Lungu responded favourably to this because he is sympathetic and he has asked the Ministry of Finance to allow the miners to each receive K18, 000 without the money being taxed,” he said.
Mr Chewe said furthermore, the unions, in seeking a sustainable way of assisting the retrenched miners, asked Government to help empower victims of mine redundancies with land for agriculture purposes.
He said the President responded positively to this by directing district commissioners for Kitwe, Mufulira and Chingola to ensure that they identified farming land for the retrenched miners.
“We are grateful that the president has responded to the unions’ cause and the good thing about this is that this will resonate well with Government’s programme for diversification of the economy,” he said.
Mr Chewe appealed to Stanbic Bank to consider having a humane face over the retrenched miners by not subjecting them to a 100 per cent loan recovery.
He was aware that while some banks such as Standard Chartered were doing a 50 per cent loan recovery, Stanbic had opted for a 100 per cent, making some of the retrenched miners go empty-handed.
NUMAW president James Chansa castigated arm-chair critics who have been critical about the interventions put in to help mitigate the impact of the global challenges such as low copper prices on the mining sector in the country.
“The unions have been badly affected because they have lost income and so is Government which has lost revenue in form of taxes,” Mr Chansa said.
UMUZ president Wisdom Ngwira urged all the retrenched miners who would be fortunate to be empowered with land for agriculture to seize the opportunity by making good use of it.