Spread the love

Government has maintained that the strike action taken by employees at First Quantum Mining and Operations Limited was illegal.

Meanwhile, management and union representatives will enter negotiations over the suspended workers.

Speaking shortly after holding a meeting with management and union leaders in Solwezi, Labour Commissioner Given Muntengwa stated that the employees where being migrated to something favorable as management extended a generous hand after it agreed to the establishment of a pension scheme.

Mr. Muntengwa revealed that the union after going through what was existing in the collective agreement in terms of retirement benefits, it saw the need to come up with a pension scheme.

He explained that the union reached out to management which was agreeable to the proposal because after looking at the agreement, it was giving employees one month salary for each year served with an additional one month salary up to the time of their retirement or when they are declared redundant.

He disclosed that the agreement was to the effect that despite  employees previously not having accrued benefits from the time they were employed, management agreed that it would deem each employee to have earned that accrued benefits so that when the pension scheme is established, all employees will have a startup balance for contributions.

“However it was explicitly provided for in the Collective Agreement that this money should not be given to be paid put to the employees because in the first place the old terms and conditions of service did not provide for the pay out of any benefits before someone retires , is declared medically unfit or declared redundant, ” explained Mr. Muntengwa.

He further disclosed that the agreement also provided for an opt out where should an employee wish to opt out at will and choose to remain under the old terms and conditions they could do so.

He stated that contrary to what is being reported, there was no issue of forcing any employee as the agreement was voluntary.

“So, literally put in context, the grounds on which the workers put up to go on strike where ones which were flawed at law, in terms of the facts and in terms of their union leaders because the agreement was signed under harmonious environment. They were not forced to sign but they are the ones who reached out to management”.

“Therefore, according to the industrial and labour relations laws, one cannot strike without a dispute which the employees did not have. So, the basis upon which that strike was called is not there,” he said.

And speaking on behalf of other unions, National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW) president James Chansa said its role is to effectively represent the workers.

He said the biggest challenge being faced in the trade union is that apart from union leaders addressing issues with their members, they also receive influence from external forces.

“And if you are to follow this matter critically, you will find out that there are people that are outside FQM that are influencing the situation,” he claimed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *