MOPANI Copper Mines has informed the Mineworkers Union of Zambia that it will lay off over 4,000 workers.
Speaking at a joint press briefing by four unions that had a meeting with Mopani management yesterday, MUZ president Nkole Chishimba said the unions had been informed that the decision was due to the challenges facing the mines such as increase in the cost of electricity, non-payment of VAT refunds by the government and the depreciation of the kwacha.
“I am speaking on behalf all the unions that represent workers in the mines, the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW), United Mineworkers Union of Zambia (UMUZ), the Zambia National Union of Nurses (ZUNO) and Mineworkers Union of Zambia. Today we had a meeting with Mopani Copper Mines where the company plans to lay off over 4,000 jobs at Mopani,” Chishimba said.
“This is the largest number we have ever heard. We are worried as unions to send such a number of people on the streets. We are saying that the global problems have affected us in different ways and we need to respond domestically. The company outlined a lot of challenges such as the increase in electricity cost, non-refunds of taxes and the depreciation of the kwacha. With these challenges, the mine is going to make thousands of miners redundant.”
He said the number was too huge and there must be other options to manage the crisis facing the mines rather than declaring people redundant.
“This number will have a negative effect on many families. So our response is a big no! We hope that we can find better ways of dialogue to save the jobs of miners. In the same vein, we are requesting the government to find a lasting solution. For us, shedding of labour is the last resort. We demand that government engages Mopani Copper Mines and the unions to find a way of avoiding these redundancies,” Chishimba said.
“The responses from government are not good enough. We demand action from the government than just saying that no jobs will be lost. We have been hearing messages from the government that the unions should do their part; we feel the government has the responsibility of doing the larger part, because they are the policy makers.”
He said the unions had no option but to come out in the public and tell people what was happening.
“For the government they must intervene seriously rather than being seen as not doing anything for the workers. So we request the government to intervene rather than leaving it to the unions. To our members, please remain calm as we engage Mopani on the best ways to avoid these redundancies,” said Chishimba.
When contacted, Mopani Copper Mines head of public relations Cephas Sinyangwe
said the company would soon issue a statement on the matter.