July 13, 2007

Strike at Kansanshi copper mine

More than 400 unionised miners at a Zambian copper mine owned by Canada's First Quantum Minerals have called off a strike after managers agreed to honour a wage deal, a union official has stated. According to Rayford Mbulu, the union president, the pay hike negotiated by the union had been reduced to as little as 6 percent in some cases when the company decided to change salary scales for its workforce at the mine, located 900 km northwest of the capital Lusaka. He added that the union would not tolerate any disciplinary action directed at those who were involved in the strike, which had been described by management as illegal.
President Mwanawasa had before denounced the strike at First Quantum Minerals Operations in Solwezi, saying the action was tantamount to blackmail. Speaking on arrival at Solwezi Airport on a day's visit, the President said while it was good to demand improved conditions of services, withdrawal of labour was not the best solution to the labour disputes. He said the strike action should always be the last resort and wondered what would happen to people who only a few years ago were unemployed when investors decided to shut the mines. North-Western was a rich province and his administration may have not planted the natural resources but had attracted investment to the area because of integrity and good governance, the President added.
The strike was the latest in a wave of industrial action in Zambia's copper belt. A jump in metal prices and soaring profits in recent years have encouraged Zambia's miners to demand larger pay hikes than in the past, according to industry analysts. (The Times of Zambia, Ndola)

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