Chambishi Copper Smelter, a subsidiary of China Non Ferrous Metals Africa Corporation fired 12 workers barely days after protesting against the meager 12% wage increase.
Mr Goodwell Kaluba GS of National Union of Miners and Allied Workers confirmed from Kitwe in the Copperbelt region that 12 miner out of the more than 500 workers have been dismissed with immediate effect citing various reasons.
Mr Kaluba stated that 6 have had their contracts terminated by NFCA management while others have been fired for theft of company property. He stated that the union was pursuing the matter to seek redress over the affected six, although he hinted that the other six could not be defended by the union as it involved theft.
He said that its true some miners have had their contracts terminated while others have been fired for theft related cases. We are seeking to meet management over the six whose contracts have been terminated for allegedly taking part in a strike action.
Sources at the mine argued that management at the mine had begun laying off workers after the employees refused to take the 12% wage increase offered earlier following negotiations with management. Management has embarked on a witch hunt of all the people suspected to have instigated the strike action earlier this month which paralyzed operations at the 150,000 tonnes per annum blister copper producer.
The sources accused their union officials of failing to adequately represent them over their grievances arguing that cases of alleged theft were mere fabrications intended to ensure more people that were party to the strike recently were relieved of their duties. The sources contended that because refused the 12% awarded to them recently, management has overruled the role of the union and was dismissing workers at will.
One of the workers said that the workers have refused to take up the 12 percent increase and instead want nothing less than 50 percent increase to cushion their welfare and that is why NUMAW has accepted and wanted to force it on miners. Management and the union have connived at this decision to terminate contracts of workers as a way of getting rid of many of those who understand their rights which is unfortunate because the contracts were supposed to end in 2013.
Mr Kaluba however denied the claims arguing that the union did its best to convince management to consider the workers plight, many that were receiving less that US100 per month, against the revised minimum wage by government. However, the sources argued that the union had failed them especially over their conditions of service and terminal benefits arguing that it is surprising that management decided to even terminate contracts for miners who did not participate in the work stoppage as some of those affected were off duty or sick at the time of the unrest.
One of the key concerns, according to the workers is management’s failure to settle gratuity calculated at 16% on contracts served before the end of 2010. According to one of the letters made available and written and signed by Mr Zuo Yue Xin human resources manager of Chambishi Copper Smelter the company had decided to terminate several contracts with immediate effect.
He said that we wish to advise that since we have not given you the stipulated notice the company will pay you one month’s pay in lieu of notice and your gratuity to end of contract. It added that a copy of the letter has been extended to the finance department to alter their records accordingly. Furthermore finance will pay you any outstanding money that may be due to you less all that you owe the company and you are reminded to submit all company property in your possession and handover all jobs to your supervisor.
The action follows another action by NFCA management in which it dismissed 18 miners for riotous behavior despite the matter being before the courts of law. The affected workers were fired because they were alleged to have damaged property worth more than USD 100,000 while demanding for improved wages and other conditions of service. Other concerns by the workers were management’s unilateral decision to change the company name to JCHX from NFCA without giving them their dues before transfers.