First Quantum Minerals’ (FQM) Sentinel Copper Mine in Kalumbila District was disrupted by a work stoppage on Friday and Saturday on suggestions that conditions of service had either been changed or reduced.

Kalumbila Minerals Limited (KML), the FQM subsidiary, however, warned that disciplinary action would be taken against employees who failed to resume work following the incident.

In a statement availed by KML Public Relations Coordinator Mirriam Harmon, Saturday, the illegal work stoppage was brought about by a change in the format of payslips, which resulted in some misunderstandings among aggrieved staff.

“Management at First Quantum Minerals’ Sentinel Mine confirms that an illegal work stoppage took place on Friday evening (January 25, 2019) and Saturday morning (January 26, 2019). Mine management met with the Assistant Labour Commissioner and union representatives to discuss grievances, which stem from a change of format of payslips that resulted in some errors and misunderstandings,” the statement read.

The situation was, however, exacerbated by an unruly mob who tried to intimidate workers at the start of their shifts on one of the public roads in Kalumbila.

“The company has warned that disciplinary action will be taken against employees who fail to resume work following the incident, during which police were called to disperse an unruly crowd assembled on a public road attempting to intimidate workers at the start of their shifts,” it stated.

According to the statement, Sentinel Mine general manager Morris Rowe explained that the pressing matters were in the process of being resolved.

“General manager Morris Rowe explained that all the matters raised by the workforce had already been tabled and are in process of being discussed and resolved with the unions. Regular updates on progress on these matters have been provided and management remained committed to dialogue in order to resolve the issues. First Quantum assures staff that conditions have not been changed or reduced, and the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2017 remains in effect,” the statement read.

“The Assistant Labour Commissioner declared the work stoppage illegal based on the Industrial and Labour Relations Act, and called for swift dialogue and resolution of the concerns raised by the workforce. The Assistant Labour Commissioner condemned the unruly behaviour, and commended union representatives, and the Kalumbila Minerals Limited management for the spirit in which they discussed and agreed to resolve the on-going matters of concern.”

By press time, Sunday, workers had since resumed normal operational duties, according to a follow-up statement by the mining firm’s PR agency, Langmead & Baker.

“First Quantum management is glad to have normal operations restored, and encourages the teams to focus on safety and production, and we look forward to a safe and productive year,” read the statement.