The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has advised Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) on the Copperbelt to reconsider its downsizing plans on the workforce of the mining company, saying the decision might have far reaching consequences.

NDC acting spokesperson Misheck Moyo said in a statement that it was understood that most mining companies were faced with a lot of operational challenges but that some of the challenges could be resolved through consultations with relevant stakeholders.

Moyo stated that there was no need for Mopani mine to cut down on its labour force at a time when citizens were facing serious economic challenges.

“Mining firms should be sensitive and sober in handling labour matters. We are disturbed with revelations that Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) on the Copperbelt plans to downsize its labour force. According to correspondence, MCM intends to retrench at least one thousand miners. This will be undertaken through the voluntary separation scheme at both the MCM Mufulira and Kitwe divisions. The reasons advanced by MCM to streamline its labour force are basic and not really convincing. The metal prices on the international market are relatively stable. There is no need therefore for MCM to reduce its labour force at this critical period when jobs are hard to come by. MCM has been a good investor throughout the years. This is a company that has remained stable even at the height when metal prices had plummeted. We are wondering why Mopani now wants to cut jobs at such a time,” Moyo stated.

NDC urged all unions in the extractive sector not to entertain calls for job cuts, especially this time.

“The NDC is urging all the unions in the extractive sector not to entertain calls for such job cuts. However, threats by mining conglomerates to reduce labour at this time of the year are not strange. We are fully aware that unions in the mining sector will soon be meeting respective mining houses to negotiate for improved salaries and other working conditions for its members. In such situations, it is common for most business entities to resort to blackmail so as to hoodwink stakeholders. We urge Mopani Mines not to fall into such a trap. Mopani Mines is a good corporate citizen. As a party, we urge them to reflect on their plans which will certainly have far reaching consequences if left unchecked. We understand, that most mines have operational challenges. However, these challenges can be resolved ably through consultations with relevant stakeholders,” stated Moyo.

“We further urge unions in the mining sector to speak out with one voice and ensure that no jobs are lost. It is rather strange that only one particular union is speaking out against the pending job cuts. We want to implore unions in the extractive industries not to depart from their core business of speaking out for workers. Workers should be effectively represented by their elected representatives.”