THE three-day strike by 2,600 miners at China Non-Ferrous Metal Company’s Baluba mine in Luanshya district has resulted in the loss of about 4,000 tonnes of copper ore per day, an official has said.
And about 170 miners at former Hetro Mining and Euro-Africa Mining have been abandoned by their former employers, who have also not paid them their dues for two months.
The miners are demanding the harmonisation of their wages with those of their counterparts in different departments and sister mines owned by the same company.
Company spokesperson Sidney Chileya said in a telephone interview from Luanshya yesterday, the miners have continued with the strike despite the negotiations between their unions and management.
“The strike by the 2,600 workers has resulted into the company losing up to 4,000 tonnes of copper ore per day,” Mr Chileya said.
He appealed to Government through Minister of Mines Wylbur Simuusa, to address the workers and persuade them to return to work to allow negotiations between their representatives and management to resume.
Mr Chileya also appealed to the miners to call off their work stoppage and resume work because management is ready to listen to their grievances.
The strike is one of the numerous work stoppages that have rocked the mining sector, especially on the Copperbelt, in the aftermath of the September 20 general elections in which the Patriotic Front (PF) emerged victorious.
Workers have also staged strikes in other sectors demanding improved salaries, conditions of service and safety standards.
This has prompted Government to embark on the process of reviewing current labour laws, which President Michael Sata and a number of ministers have blamed for the rampant abuse of workers by employers.
Meanwhile, about 170 miners at former Hetro Mining and Euro-Africa Mining have been abandoned by their former employers, who have also not paid them their dues for two months, leaving them stranded and on the verge of starving in Kalengwa village in Mufumbwe district.
The workers are now surviving on mushroom as they are not sure when and where their ‘salvation’ will come from.
And Mr Simuusa has warned the two mining companies not to use wrangles between them as an excuse to fail to pay their workers at Kalengwa mine.
The workers’ spokesperson, Peter Kasanda said they were earlier evicted from the mine premises where they had been lodging and are now renting houses in the village.
Mr Kasanda said in an interview from Mufumbwe in North-Western Province, the miners are in a desperate situation because they do not have any money to sustain themselves as their former employer has not paid them for the last two months.
He said all the affected workers come from other towns and are unable to go back to their various places because they do not have any money.
Mr Kasanda said the future of the workers is uncertain because there are rumours that another mining company intends to take over the mine and operate it on a larger scale, while the two mining companies have maintained that they will resume operations.
“We were not allowed to sign or obtain any documents to confirm our contracts or employment at any level. We do not even know whether we were on contract or on full-time, but we have just been working while being promised that they will finalise the arrangement,” Mr Kasanda said.