MINE Workers Union of Zambia president Joseph Chewe says the 20 percent salary increment which Vedanta has promised to give KCM workers once it regains control of the mine has left employees divided on whether the investor should return or not.
Last week, Vedanta Zambia Corporate Communications Director Masuzyo Ndhlovu said workers at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) would receive a 20 percent salary increment in the first three months once the firm gains back control of the mining company.
Commenting on this in an interview, Chewe said most of the KCM employees said they didn’t mind Vedanta returning when the union conducted a quick study.
“The offer from Vedanta has divided KCM workers, some want to pick it and others feel Vedanta should not come. So there is this mixed feeling and what we want to say is that KCM in its current situation requires efficiency because the mine is not doing very well and the government has said the mine will run under private hands. With that position, it is therefore required that the government takes a decision. Vedanta has offered to give workers a 20 percent, so it will be up to the government to make a decision whether to bring Vedanta if they will agree to abide by those benchmarks which the union formulated some weeks ago. We did a joint meeting as mining unions following the exercise we conducted in branches of KCM about what they feel about the 20 percent, some, as I said, are for it while others said they will wait for the government to make a decision,” Chewe said.
“It is now entirely up to the government to make the decision. What is key is KCM requires an investor so that mine can come back on track. KCM workers have not been getting salary increments in the last three, four years and that is why some have gone for it. As the unions, we consult the workers and then the views of the workers become very, very important. For instance, the exercise we conducted, Chililabombwe workers said yes they can come, Nchanga said they can come, Nkana here said no we don’t want Vedanta, Nampundwe said they can come. So those are the results we got from the branches when we had a meeting. If Vedanta is to come, it must come on properly defined terms which stakeholders can start ticking.”
He noted that Vedanta didn’t want to let go of KCM because it had the best copper ore reserves.
“You know, KCM is sitting on the best copper ore reserves and that is why Vedanta does not even want to release it because the minerals which will be required in future are rich. So you know that whoever gets KCM is in huge profits because copper prices are going up. So KCM, being the only company with core reserves of over 3 per cent copper content, it’s very rich; that’s why everyone will be fighting for that mine if the court matters are concluded. KCM, without producing copper will affect the overall picture of anticipated 3 million tonnes in the next 10 years,” said Chewe.