Konkola Copper Mines defies President Sata, lays off workers

Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) has defied President Michael Sata’s directive not to fire a single worker by going ahead to terminate contracts for 76 employees at its Konkola shaft in Chililabombwe.

On Friday last week, KCM announced that it would lay off more than 1,500 workers, claiming the move was in a bid to move towards mechanisation and automation in view of decreased copper grades at some of its mines.

This prompted President Sata on Monday to warn the mining firm that it risked having its mining licence revoked if it proceeded to lay off a single worker from the 1,500 workers earmarked for retrenchment.

Mr Sata said the Government would not succumb to any kind of threat and blackmail as it stood ready to serve the interests of Zambian workers.

“And please Mr Fackson Shamenda (Labour Minister) go and tell Mr (Kishore) Kumar (KCM chief executive officer) that if he is threatening us that he wants to lay off people, let him lay off one person, we shall take his licence away from him.
“That is the best way of laying him off because, firstly, investment should be for people and if Mr Kumar wants to threaten and blackmail us he will go. We shall sort him out,” Mr Sata said.

Meanwhile, the affected workers confirmed that they received their contract termination letters yesterday and wondered why KCM management had backdated them to September 19, this year.According to the letters to some of the affected workers, dated September 19, 2013 and signed by human capital and management (HCM) manager Eve Banda, the workers ceased to be employees of the company on October 19, this year.

The affected workers, mostly from Konkola shaft number one, were being advised to consult HCM business partners for exit formalities.

“Reference is made to the termination of contract clause in the offer of fixed term contract of employment with Konkola Copper Mines Plc which states, either party may terminate this agreement by giving the other party 30 days written notice.

“Accordingly, we wish to advise that your contract of employment will be terminated effective October 19. Your last working shift will, therefore, be on October 19 this year,” reads the letters in part.

The letters indicated that the affected employees would be paid in accordance with the terms and conditions of their contracts and would include wages worked for, gratuity and accrued leave pay.

KCM public relations manager Joy Sata declined to comment on the matter.On Friday last week, Mr Kumar said KCM had started laying off 1,529 workers, claiming the move was in a bid to move towards mechanisation and automation in view of decreased copper grades at some of its mines.KCM has more than 8,000 workers while 12,000 are employed in companies contracted by the Vedanta Resources-owned mining giant.

Courtesy of Times of Zambia