MINEWORKERS unions say the suspension of 139 workers at Barrick Lumwana Mine in North-Western Province is an indirect way of retrenching employees.
Barrick Lumwana Mine management has suspended 139 workers, mostly those who were suspected to have taken part in the threatened mine closure protests following increased mineral royalty taxes.
Mineworkers Union of Zambia general secretary Joseph Chewe, who also spoke on behalf of the National Union of Miners and Allied workers, told journalists on Sunday that he found the action by Lumwana management as an act of betrayal.
“We are told that this is as a result of the strike we had at the mine recently. We want to put it on record that as unions, we demand that Barrick Lumwana management must withdraw those suspension letters they have given our members. The miners feel betrayed because they stood with the company until government decided to reduce mineral royalty taxes from 20 per cent to nine per cent. This is unacceptable and there is no way the worker, and indeed the government, could be paid back in such a manner,” Chewe said.
He said it was clear to the unions that management at the mine was making manoeuvres to find ways of firing employees, despite the government listening to their cries and revising the mineral royalty tax.
“Our appeal goes to the government that they have also been rewarded with suspensions after bringing down mineral royalty tax from 20 to nine per cent. They should not sit idle,
they must watch these manoeuvres. If they want to go, they must come out in the open and tell the nation the truth or if they want to lay off workers, they must not hide behind these disciplinary cases,” Chewe said.
According to one of the letters addressed to the suspended miners, signed by Lumwana Mine acting human resources manager Sarah Chungu, management indicated that the suspensions were due to the alleged failure by the workers to carry out lawful instructions as stipulated under clause 5.4 of the disciplinary code.
“You are hereby suspended with immediate effect pending a disciplinary hearing to be held on May 11 (yesterday) at 11:40 hours. Venue is health and safety boardroom 2,” read one of the letters in part.