OPERATIONS at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) in Mufulira and Kitwe were yesterday disrupted after over 2,000 miners staged a sit-in protest over management’s decision to award them a 12 percent salary increament.
A check by a Zambia Daily Mail team at the MCM Mindolo shaft in Kitwe found miners boarding buses and Mitsubishi Canter light trucks, on their way to be addressed by Minister of Labour, Youth and Sport Chishimba Kambwili.
Sources revealed that MCM plans to start sending its copper concentrates to the Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) smelter in Chingola for refining due to the disruption.
The irate workers, who are demanding a 100 percent salary hike, vowed not to return to work until their demands are met.
Mr Kambwili has given the Mine Workers Union of Zambia, the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and MCM management a two-day ultimatum to conclude negotiations and sign the new collective agreement.
Speaking when he addressed the miners at the MCM general offices in Kitwe yesterday, Mr Kambwili advised them to return to work and allow the two unions and management to conclude negotiations.
He assured the workers that Government will dialogue with management to explore ways of increasing their salaries ‘reasonably’.
Mr Kambwili said the 12 percent salary increase management is proposing is unreasonable. He directed MCM management to reconsider its offer.
“I can agree with you that the 12 percent salary rise is too low. I have given management at MCM up to Wednesday next week to come up with a better pay rise. This afternoon, I will hold serious discussions with management at the mine to see how best they can give you a better pay,” he said.
Mr Kambwili urged the workers to resume work while Government is trying to find an amicable solution to their problems.
And National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) secretary-general Goodwell Kaluba said Mr Kambwili has given the union and management an ultimatum to conclude negotiations.
“We advise the workers to go back to work so that they can give us chance to negotiate. Since Government has addressed them, it is important for them to listen,” Mr Kaluba said.
He said management is proposing a 12 percent salary increase and the union is demanding a pay rise of over 20 percent.
MCM management was working on a response to a press query by press time.