The National Democratic Congress (NDC) says revelations by some mining companies to effect job cuts in the extractive industry are a ploy to blackmail government not to effect the proposed tax changes.

On Monday, Chambishi Metals on the Copperbelt asked 30 per cent of its workforce to go on voluntary separation, barely a few days after Mopani Copper Mines and Kalumbila Minerals Limited in North-Western Province announced plans to downsize their workforce due to operational costs.

But in a statement, NDC acting spokesperson Misheck Moyo stated that mining firms were being irrational and grossly unfair in their approach, explaining that tax adjustments in the mining sector would enable government to raise more money for developmental projects.

Moyo added that the reasons advanced by the complaining mining firms to cut down their workforce in the wake of the proposed changes in the tax regime were extremely trivial.

“NDC is urging government not to allow mining firms to effect job cuts in the extractive industry. Revelations that mining firms on the Copperbelt and North-Western provinces intend to cut jobs are uncalled for. As a party, we appeal to government to convene an urgent tripartite meeting with stakeholders to discuss perceived challenges mines might be facing. That the said tripartite meeting should bring on board mining firms, unions and government. We propose that experts from both the Ministries of Finance and Mines should attend the said meeting. As NDC, we feel the reasons advanced by mining firms to trim labour in the wake of proposed changes in the tax regime are extremely trivial,” Moyo argued.

“We are of the view that mining firms merely want to blackmail government not to effect the proposed tax changes. Mining firms are being irrational and grossly unfair in their approach. As NDC, we support the proposed tax changes in the mining sector. Tax adjustments in the mining sector will enable government raise more money for development projects. The current tax regime in the mining sector have gravely disadvantaged Zambians.”

He added that his party was of the view that mining firms, which were experiencing operational problems should consider leaving the country instead of cutting jobs.

“Such firms should immediately hand over the mines to serious investors. Government should consider effecting radical measures that may include taking over mines that are claiming to be experiencing challenges. As NDC, we stand together with our colleagues working in the mining sector. And as a party, we shall not allow any job losses at any mine. We shall speak for the voiceless miners and ensure that their jobs are protected and secured. We further implore the Ministry of Labour to closely monitor the happenings in mining firms in the wake of looming job cuts. We urge the Zambian government to consider increasing its shareholding stake in mining firms through ZCCM-IH. ZCCM-IH has the capacity to take over and run ailing mining firms. It is a pity that some mining firms operating in the country are extremely selfish! Such firms will do anything possible not to share their profits with the people of Zambia,” stated Moyo.