The Government through the Ministry of Labour has provisionally lifted a two-week suspension of operations slapped on a Ndola-based Chinese-owned copper mining firm called Macrolink Resources Limited.
Minister of Labour Brenda Tambatamba earlier in July, 2022 suspended operations at Macrolink Resources Limited during a visit to the mine site over poor safety and living conditions at the workers quarters located in the Mwekera area off the Ndola-Mufulira Road.
Ms. Tambatamba and a team from the Labour Department were not happy with the state of sanitation facilities, sleeping rooms at the workers quarters, lack of qualified human resource personnel and failure to have union representation at the mining firm.
After Tuesday’s inspection by a team led by Copperbelt Province Assistant Labour Commissioner Charles Muwowo, the Labour Department announced that operations at Macrolink Resources can resume.
Mr. Muwowo said he was impressed with the improved sanitation facilities, opening of a kitchen unit, the signing of a recognition agreement with the Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and the hiring of qualified human resource personnel.
Copperbelt Province Assistant Labour Commissioner told the management to recall the over 100 workers sent home following the suspension of operations.
Mr. Muwowo challenged the mining firm to continue improving the plight of workers in relation to safety and living conditions at the employee’s quarters.
He added that workers at Macrolink Resources Limited must actively get involved in facilitating a safer and good working environment because they are the ones who are directly affected.
“We would like to encourage the workers and management to continue working together for the sake of this investment and job creation. From the Department of Labour aspect, following the tour that we have done together with colleagues from the media, workers compensation, Napsa and other government agencies that are here we can say that we are happy with what has been done so far. Especially from the ablution blocks, the shower rooms and the kitchen. From the rooms we still insist that you improve on mattresses in all the rooms,” Mr. Muwowo said.
“I know we cannot do everything at a go. It is a process. It is continuous improvement so after the tour I have done consultation with the Labour Commissioner at our head office and from our discussions we are now making a decision to temporally lift the suspension. I am using the word temporally because there are still one or two things that need to be done especially in the kitchen. We also need to address the issue of mattresses. Then workers have raised issues of mine safety with regards to protective clothing when they go underground. Our plea is to do the right thing by procuring the right protective clothing because we saw those two miners who came from underground wet. Meaning that the material you have given them is not appropriate. So that is very urgent and this temporal lifting of the suspension is meant for you to address these concerns. Otherwise we are happy for the cooperation you have shown,” Mr. Muwowo said.
Macrolink Resources Commercial Manager Lucas Wang promised that management will continue improving the living and working conditions for the over 100 workers.
Mr. Wang acknowledged that the working and living conditions at Macrolink Resources Limited were not perfect.
“This improvement we have made is not the end for us. This is just a start. From here and from now we will do our best,” Mr. Wang said.
Some workers told journalists that Macrolink should continue improving the plight of workers in relation to safety and living conditions at the quarters.
Others said beside safety and living conditions at the quarters, their management should improve conditions of service.
“We are just appreciating the improvements we have seen. This is a good start and we want the improvements to continue as we are working,” Raphael Ngoti told the delegation.