CHISHALA MUSONDA, Ndola
MINISTER of Labour and Social Security Fackson Shamenda says China Nonferrous Metal Mining Corporation Luanshya Copper Mineâ€™s (CLM) decision to send 1,400 workers on forced leave is illegal and a breach of labour laws.
As of yesterday, CLM management had issued letters to 1,400 workers advising them to proceed on leave after placing the Baluba Mine on care and maintenance.
Mr Shamenda advised the Chinese-owned mine to rescind its decision to send workers on forced leave and to put the Baluba mine on care and maintenance.
The minister said in an interview in Lusaka yesterday that it is wrong for CLM to act in such a way without following procedure before laying off workers.
â€œItâ€™s unfair, it is an illegal act. Even if the company faces challenges, there are procedures that have to be followed. They should rescind their decision and follow the right procedure,â€ he said.
Mr Shamenda said he advised CLM deputy chief executive officer Robert Kamanga on the procedure to follow during a meeting last week.
â€œI advised them properly, I told their deputy CEO that they should provide 60 daysâ€™ notice. I told a Mr Kamanga to see the Labour Commissioner but I am surprised that they have put the company on care and maintenance,â€ Mr Shamenda said.
He said CLM management has flouted the law by sending workers on forced leave and advised investors against antagonising Government.
â€œSuppose it is Government that flouts the law, what are they going to do? We are partners in this and they should not flout the law. We need to come up with a win-win situation. My colleague at Mines Mr Yaluma [Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Christopher Yaluma] and I are always ready to meet them.
â€œOn this, they acted outside the law,â€ Mr Shamenda said.
Mr Shamenda will tomorrow meet chief executive officers (CEOs) of mining companies in Kitwe.
Meanwhile, Government has ordered CLM management to rescind its decision of sending the over 1,400 miners on forced leave because it has abrogated the mines and mineral Act.
Chief Government spokesman Chishimba Kambwili said the mine has abrogated the law and consequently the director of mines Mooya Lumamba has rejected their resolution.
â€œCLM have abrogated the law and director of mines and said no to this,â€ Mr Kambwili said when addressing hundreds of miners at Mpatamato Sports Complex hall in Luanshya yesterday.
Mr Kambwili, who is Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, told the miners that President Lungu is not in support of the decision to send workers on forced leave and he is with them in the fight to maintain their jobs.
The Roan member of Parliament (MP), who was accompanied by his Luanshya Central counterpart Steven Chungu, read the letter Mr Lumamba wrote to CLM chief executive officer to turn down the request to send miners on forced leave.
The letter is dated September 7, 2015.
â€œI wish to advise that Government will not accept a position where so many employees will be laid off and placed on forced leave.
â€œI, therefore, direct that you rescind the decision to place Baluba Mine and the concentrator on care and maintenance while you engage Copperbelt Energy Corporation Plc (CEC) on how best power requirement can be met,â€ the letter reads.
And the letter to CEC from Ministry of Mines, Energy and Water Development acting permanent secretary Paul Chanda on the power supply to the mine reads in part: â€œIn light of the above, I am requesting confirmation from you as to whether it is indeed true you intend to restrict power supply to the mine by 30 percent effective September 8, 2015 or not.
â€œIf indeed you intend to restrict power supply, I suggest that you reconsider your decision and see how you can manage this matter to ensure continued operation of the Baluba Mine and concentrator to avoid placing such a huge number of employees on forced leave with uncertain future.â€
And a letter obtained by the Daily Mail addressed to one of the miners indicates that the miner will be entitled to a monthly allowance of K900 but will not be allowed to engage in employment with another company.
â€œPlease note that management reserves the right to cancel your leave and call you back as and when it is necessary. You are, therefore, expected to seek permission from the human resources officer each time you desire to travel out of Luanshya,â€ the letter reads in part.
Meanwhile, CLM head of public relations and local business development Sydney Chileya said in a separate interview that the number of miners sent on forced leave now stands at 1,400.
Meanwhile, Mr Shamenda is today expected in Ndola to name the new board chairman for the Workersâ€™ Compensation Fund Control Board.
CHISHALA MUSONDA, Ndola