THREE miners’ unions have signed a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with Kalumbila Minerals Limited (KML) on behalf of more than 1,400 employees that will see unionised workers get an increased basic salary increment of K1,000 across the board.

Speaking during the signing ceremony between KML and three mine unions in Kalumbila, Thursday, KML general manager Sean Egner said the agreement was significant to the leadership at the Sentinel Copper Mine and to the economic challenges the 1,444 employees faced.

In the agreement, unionised employees will now receive a total increment of K1,500 per month broken down as K1,000 basic salary increment across the board, which translates to a K400 increase on housing allowance and a 14.3 per cent upward adjustment to education allowance and other associated allowances.

The agreement, which the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (Numaw); Mine Workers’ Union of Zambia (MUZ) and United Mine Workers’ Union of Zambia (UMUZ) signed with KML is effective May 1, this year, which is an amendment to the existing CBA that will expire in April, next year.

“The agreement we are signing today (Thursday) means a lot to the leadership at Sentinel Mine. The economic challenges our employees and most Zambians are currently facing forms the basis of many candid discussions before, during and after the negotiations,” Egner said.

He explained that Sentinel Mine faced the same socio-economic pressures such as COVID-19, volatilities in the world market, rising cost of business, taxation and interests of shareholders, who had made huge mining investments.

Egner said that KML was nonetheless resolved to achieve the set production target of 252,000 tonnes of copper this year.

“With an engaged staff, we can be sure of our productivity and the knock-on effects this will have in the short, medium and long-term on the national Treasury, our community and our employees,” said Egner.

KML human resource manager Brighton Mwiinga said the company had always believed that dealing with the unions required partnerships in sharing the same agenda, same constituency and same interests to improve the welfare of employees.

“Our approach in this partnership has been about building trust in this relationship, resolving issues on an ongoing basis even when there is no collective bargaining negotiation. This, we have demonstrated over the years leading to the mature state of our relationship with our partners. In the last conversation, we approached the issues with boldness, honesty and understood the passion of our partners over our employees’ welfare. We are constantly resolved that when we confer, we find solutions even in seemingly tough conversations like we had then,” said Mwiinga, who added that the mining company shall openly look to the future with continuous engagement for the betterment of the employees.

“Our doors remain open to engage, at any time, even over non-negotiable issues as we believe there is wisdom on the other side. Comrades, you asked and management gave; we have bettered the lives of 1,444 employees starting May, 2021.”

Meanwhile, Numaw treasurer-general Saul Simujika said the signing ceremony was an indication of successful discussions between the unions and KML management.

He commended the effective communication between KML management and the unions and thanked all parties for ensuring that the negotiations were concluded in a record time of just one day.

“We encourage more communication to avoid conflict between unions and management. Management must be open with information so that the production figures being communicated by the workers to the unions match the ones communicated by the management as this prevents prolonged and heated discussions,” advised Simujika, who also urged unionised employees to accept the negotiated pay and perks and to put in their best effort in production to justify better negotiations in future.

The CBA was arrived at during an interim negotiation between the unions and KML management.

The parties will again meet for full negotiations towards the end of this year.