MCM discriminatory re-engagement policy

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 09:49:26 +0000

 

THE decision by Mopani Copper Mine (MCM) to only re-engage miners who were retrenched in 2015 if they possess Grade 12 certificates is not only unfair but also discriminatory.

This is quite unfortunate!

Mopani Copper Mines, like other mining companies in Zambia, experienced operational challenges due to low copper prices on the international market.

As a result of such external forces, MCM was left with no option but to downsize on its workforce as a cost saving measure to avoid the company from grinding to a halt.

Going by common practice, retrenchment does not necessarily imply that the affected workers were relieved of their duties on account of not being qualified for the job. It was simply a management decision to reduce operational expenses due to prevailing economic circumstances at the time.

When the financial situation of the company improves, it is anticipated that the retrenched workers should be given priority for re-employment.

Given that the improvement in the copper prices on the London Metal Exchange which now range between US$ 6014.50 and US$ 6015.00 per tonne, many mining companies are surely expected to resume full scale operations sooner than later. This entails re-employing individuals who were retrenched when the mining company could not sustain its operations.

We find the resolution by MCM to turn away some of its retrenched workers because they do not have Grade 12 certificates as a harsh and discriminatory condition of re-engagement.

On this understanding, it is quite unfair for MCM to set such a condition which is proportionately meant to disadvantage the more than 300 workers it had retrenched who most likely do not possess Grade 12 qualification.

It is certain that some former workers diligently served the mining company for a long time despite not being in possession of the Grade 12 certificate as minimum qualification.

Has MCM changed the job descriptions to set Grade 12 as minimum qualification for re-engagement?

We are cognisant of the basic fact that the mining sector has different jobs which require different qualifications and competences as prescribed in the job descriptions.

And we equally remain mindful that MCM management reserves the express right to make its own decisions with regards to minimum academic qualification for workers.

However, MCM should endeavour to strike a distinction between those who were earlier engaged using the Grade 12 qualification and those who were not.

Undeniably, not all jobs descriptions require a minimum of Grade 12 certificate as qualification. Honestly, does one need a Grade 12 certificate to work in the concentrator? Does one need to have a Grade 12 certificate to be a handman helping with repairs, drilling or laying slippers, let alone carrying a tools box?

In light of the above, we do not think the set minimum academic qualification for re-employment of former workers by MCM is fair.

For instance, one does not require to be a golf player to be a caddy. Even individuals who are not golf players can carry a golfer’s bag and clubs.

Therefore, we commend the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and the National Ex-Miners and Allied Workers Association of Zambia (NEWAZ) for taking the initiative to engage MCM and further appeal to its management to rescind this decision.

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