Mine unions want actualization of the improved conditions of service based minimum wage


Mine unions have called for the actualization of the planned improved conditions of service for miners and sector-based minimum wage. The Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) want proper salaries for miners to meet current economic trends.

NUMAW President Saul Simujika said the sector-based minimum wage must be actualized for workers to benefit from the initiative. Mr Simujika said the move by the government to introduce a sector-based minimum wage should be commended as sectors differ in the manner they operate.

He added that employers have been taking advantage of the situation of not having sector-based minimum wage by giving employees meagre wages. Mr Simujika emphasised that miners deserve good pay because their occupation is not easy.

“We know ourselves as miners very well. We know the kind of work that we do as miners and we know what we pass through. So we feel that putting us together with everyone else in terms of minimum wage was not sitting well with us and we know that some of the mining companies have taken advantage of the lack of minimum wage in the mining sector. Immediately they pay above the minimum wage they feel they have done justice. So we need to have a figure that is well reserved for the person who goes underground. You know that underground work is something else. It is not equal to these other jobs so the minimum in terms of lowest to be paid in the mining industry must actually be uplifted and uplifted very well,” Mr. Simujika said.

Meanwhile, MUZ President Josep Chewe has also advocated improved conditions of service for workers in the mining sector. Mr Chewe proposed that the least paid worker in the mining sector should be getting K5, 000.

“MUZ is currently interacting with various stakeholders in policy formulation to help us begin to represent workers in the artisanal small-scale mining sector. Secondly, wages in the mines have constantly lagged behind increases in the cost of living. Whereas the cost of living for Copperbelt is around K8000, the lowest-paid directly employed mineworker gets about K4000. We have a poor working class in the end. Workers have tried to compensate for their low wages by borrowing from banks. However, the abnormal interest rates charged by banks erode the workers’ net pay pushing them into a debt spiral.”

“When they are retrenched, banks get their retrenchment packages as loan repayment, sending the worker and his family into unemployment with nothing to live on. This is heartless. Government should intervene to protect workers against abnormal interests and retrenchment packages for the poor mineworkers. For the non-unionised workers, MUZ suggests that the government imposes K5000 as the minimum wage for the least qualified mineworkers because these workers operate under very dangerous conditions,” Mr. Chewe said.

Mr. Chewe said MUZ was assuring members of effective representation during the bargaining process.

“In the last four years collective bargaining has been given the utmost importance being the backbone of trade unionism. We ensured that all collective bargaining meetings were effectively undertaken and officials were assigned to each meeting. The demand for better wages and conditions of service is still high amongst our members owing to the fact that wages in the mining sector are low. Miners cannot meet their families daily needs without loans. However, MUZ faced challenges in securing increased wages due to declining profits amidst the covid-19 pandemic. Also, bargaining with subcontractors was extremely challenging due to the poor contracts they are offered. Nonetheless, MUZ still managed to secure some increases despite the rapid inflation which undermined the bargaining power of these wages,” Mr. Chewe said.


  1. The whole issue of minimum wages in a market economy is misplace requirement for individual, micro, small and medium sizes businesses, especially for households and subsistence farming sectors! Does not make sense at all!
    Is Government going to subsidise the wages? Government could have the Minimum wages – illogical for small business!, let alone for domestic work.
    Let the People Bargain. Govermate can provide guidelines to help in the bargaining processes. Period!

  2. Zambian workers are orphans because of the behavior of Union leaders. Can you justify why one should subscribe to MUZ? You’re waiting for government to adjust the minimum wage instead of fighting for good working conditions. It’s corruption for Union leaders to be suppliers and contractors to the same institutions whose workers they represent. Bally arrest them! If they want to be suppliers and contractors let them resign their positions from the Unions. They must choose between being businessmen or labour leaders. Some are even praise singers, we saw how they paraded themselves before ECL2021

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