Labour Minister Joyce Nonde has expressed concern on the salary gaps between management staff and the general workforce in most privately owned companies.
Speaking during a meeting with Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) management and mine union officials in Chililabombwe, Ms Nonde said there was need to share equitably between investors and the workforce.
“New mines must have a living wage for the workers. Workers want a fair return of their sweat. We need to start discussing these issues because our people need to survive and take their children to school as well as build houses,” she said.
Ms Nonde intimated that miners were key to the nation’s economic development hence the need for industrial harmony unlike unnecessary friction between the management and the employees.
KCM employees at number one and three shafts in Chililabombwe have since Tuesday morning staged a work boycott due to various demands key among them salary increments.
Ms Nonde urged the KCM management to enhance their communication strategies with the unions and the workers to avoid misunderstandings which result into industrial unrest which negatively affects production.
She wondered why worker education has not been given priority despite its importance in a work environment as well as its potential to weaken the union hence misunderstandings which leads to friction.
“Member education is important. I urge management to partner with the union to educate the workers. We will be forced to make it law as ignorance is the worst disease that can happen to a human being,” she said.
Ms Nonde also urged the unionists to employ empowerment based collective agreements during their negotiations such as the provision of loans to build houses unlike mere salary increments.
And KCM Chief Operations Officer Mark Munroe expressed disappointment at the prevailing situation as salary negotiations were still in progress despite the difficulties the company was undergoing.
Mr Munroe pledged to step up communication and education with the workers and the unions as it was the company’s philosophy of having a happy worker as a key aspect of productivity and good business decision making. Ends/vm/zanis/chililabombwe