Mine workers unions have described the ongoing 2023 collective bargaining process with the mines as tough.
Speaking in an interview in Kitwe today, Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) President, Joseph Chewe, said the negotiations are tough as most mines are resisting to meet the demands from the unions.
The mines are citing a number of challenges that include low production, low copper grade and the continuous rise in the cost of diesel.
Another challenge being put forward is the reduction in the copper prices on the international market which is making planning projections difficult.
“The negotiations are still ongoing, but it is tough due to a number of reasons that are being presented by mining companies, the mines are complaining about the low copper production, low copper grades and the continuously rising diesel prices which is making it difficult to plan or project possible profits,” he said.
Mr Chewe however, said the union remains hopeful that the workers will get a better deal.
He has meanwhile refuted circulating reports suggesting that all the mining companies are offering about seven percent salary increment to their workers.
He clarified that workers are instead demanding an across the board block figure and not in percentage terms.
Mr Chewe further stated that there was no way the unions can ask for the same percentage from all mining companies as they are performing differently and have different challenges.
And National Union of Mining and Allied Workers (NUMAW) President, Saul Simujika, said his union is hoping to get better offers from Kansanshi, Kalumbila and First Quantum Minerals as these are performing well compared to most Copperbelt based mines that are facing operational challenges.
Mr Simujika said the negotiations are progressing well despite some challenges which are beyond the control of the unions and mines management.
He also cited low production levels and incomplete projects as some of the challenges being faced by mining companies in the negotiations process.
He stated that the unions concluded with Lubambe Mine where workers were given a 10 percent salary increment.
He however stated that the union does not expect a blanket figure for all mining companies as they face different challenges.