Konkola Copper Mines PLC has declared a dispute with mining unions on the Copperbelt following a standoff over the mining company’s decision to transfer its workforce to a new contractor.

In a letter dated October 12, 2017, KCM informed the Mine workers Union of Zambia (MUZ), National Union of Mine and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and the United Mine Workers Union of Zambia (UMUZ) that it was referring the dispute to the board of conciliation

“KCM has engaged the unions on several occasions and has considered closely the information presented by the union in the report availed to KCM management on 9th August 2017. In the KCM letter dated 21st August, 2017, KCM clarified to the union the new business model and assured the unions that the employees seconded to contractor companies will maintain their status as full time KCM employees, continue to accrue rights and benefits as per company policy and collective agreement, remain on the KCM payroll and continue to belong to their current union. At the end of the secondment, employees would return to KCM and have range negotiations for these seconded employees handled by KCM as part of the normal collective bargaining process,” KCM vice president for human capital Chimango Chikwanda stated.

“On 28th of September 2017, a meeting was convened by the labour commissioner at Protea Hotel, Ndola where both parties KCM and union where present to guide the parties and advise the parties to dialogue over the matter. The Labour Commissioner guided that outsourcing and secondment were legal management methods and within the right of KCM.”

However, a special Mining Joint Industrial Council which was organised for the unions and KCM to agree the terms and conditions under which the mining giant was going to implement the secondment was not successful.

“A special Mining Joint Industrial Council (MJIC) was convened on 2nd October, 2017 in Kitwe at which KCM presented the terms of secondment for negotiations. KCM also assured the unions that there would be no job loses, benefits would be protected and all KCM employees would remain KCM employees. The union requested more time to engage with the branches,” Chikwanda stated.

“A continuation of MJIC meeting was held on 11th October, 2017 in Kitwe at which the union made a counter proposal to the terms of secondment as follows:

Time and attendance: KCM employees should report to KCM and all leave and overtime should be done by KCM management. Safety: KCM is responsible for production and should therefore provide PPE as and when required.
Transport: KCM should continue to provide transport as per conditions of service.
Meals: KCM should continue providing meals.
Discplinary: This should continue as per current practice.
Shift and patterns of work: All should remain unchanged.
Supervision: This should be done by KCM”

Chikwanda stated that KCM objected to the union proposals, leading to the declared dispute.

“Time and attendance will be managed by the contractor. Shifts and patterns of work would also be determined by the contractors in agreement with the union including supervision because it’s contractors who have been allocated areas to work where they will be responsible and accountable for production. Safety will be hybrid of contractor and KCM practices as the contractors will bring in new technologies and safety standards which they may wish to adhere to. Meanwhile, PPE is purely for identification and safety purposes of employees working with different contractors,” KCM stated.

And following management’s submission, the union declined to make a counter-offer and informed KCM management that they did not want to continue negotiating because they did not support KCM’s idea of secondment and KCM has since declared a dispute.

“In consideration of the above, KCM hereby declares a dispute in accordance with section 75 (C) of the industrial and labour relations act. KCM hereby wishes to refer and do refer the matter to a board of conciliation in accordance with section 76 chapter (1) of the industrial and labour relations. We will proceed to select a conciliator,” stated Chikwanda.