IndustriALL affiliate the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) strongly opposes plans by Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) to sacrifice 4,700 jobs, and condemns the company’s use of intimidation and blackmail as a bargaining chip.
The union said the proposed retrenchments must be stopped as they bring squalor and poverty to the mineworkers. Always keen to retrench, the company laid off 4,300 workers in 2015.
MCM, where Glencore is a majority shareholder with 73.1 per cent, wants to retrench the workers because the Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) reduced its power supply from 130 to 94 megawatts following an industry-wide 30 per cent tariff increase that the company refused to pay.
The government of Zambia argued that if domestic consumers, equally affected by the increase, were paying, MCM should do the same.
Instead of retrenchments, the union demanded that MCM prioritize the interests of the workers, and follow the example of other mining companies in Zambia that dealt with the tariff increases differently.
Chisimba Nkole, MUZ and Zambian Congress of Trade Unions president said:
“We call on the government to stop MCM on the threats of job cuts, and guarantee the employment of mineworkers at Mopani. The government directed MCM and the CEC to negotiate the power increment, which is a commercial transaction, and MUZ is pleased that other mining companies have taken on board the power increment using other options rather than cutting jobs.”
Kenny Mogane, IndustriALL regional officer for Sub Saharan Africa added:
“Protecting jobs and the rights of mineworkers in Zambia is paramount, and companies like MCM should never think that it is acceptable to sacrifice so many jobs. We call upon MCM to protect jobs, respect workers’ rights, and to negotiate its power deal with the CEC without compromising workers interests.”