Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) has de-activated over 1,000 electronic access cards for employees engaged by companies whose contracts have been suspended by the mining firm, the Zambian Daily Mail has reported.
The development comes after Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) has restricted power supply to MCM following a contractual dispute between the two parties, resulting in the latter suspending contracts for its suppliers and contractors and threatening to lay off 4,700 workers.
Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and Association of Mine Suppliers and Contractors (AMSC) confirmed the development.
Augustine Mubanga, AMSC President said there are about 300 companies whose contracts have been suspended by MCM and that each firm employs about 10 people.
“We can safely say over 1,000 cards have been de-activated by the mining firm,” Mubanga said.
Joseph Chewe, MUZ General Secretary said the union is saddened by the happenings at MCM and has urged Government to intervene in the matter to prevent job losses
“Yes, we have received a report about some workers having their cards de-activated. These are contractual workers. Our appeal to Mopani Copper Mines and the Copperbelt Energy Corporation is that they should find an amicable solution to this problem,” he said.
Chewe said the union will not accept retrenchment of full-time workers by MCM and advised the mining company to quickly resolve the dispute it has with CEC.
And United Mineworkers Union of Zambia president Wisdom Ngwira urged Mopani not to punish its workers in its legal battle with CEC over revised electricity tariffs.
CEC says Mopani owes about US$23 million since the electricity tariffs were revised but the mining firm contends that it signed a binding contract with the power supply company up to 2040.
The power utility company said in a statement last week that with all other mining companies having agreed to pay the new tariff.