By ADRIAN MWANZA
ABOUT 450 workers for contractor companies at KCM who have been protesting, demanding to be fully employed by the mine have been locked out for going on an illegal work stoppage since Tuesday.
The workers downed tools after failing to agree with KCM management and their respective companies on the way forward.
The workers claimed that KCM pumped in US$1.5 million but that the money was pocketed by the leaders in the previous PF regime.
KCM General Manager Corporate Affairs, Shapi Shachinda said the contractor workers who participated in the illegal strike would only be allowed back in the KCM operational areas after undergoing a prescribed disciplinary process in their respective companies.
Mr Shachinda said the illegal strike undermined and breached the contractual obligations that contractors had with KCM.
He said the workers who did not participate in the strike would continue to report to their work stations and shall be assigned their respective tasks.
Mr Shachinda said it was not all contractor workers who participated in the illegal strike as some were working normally.
“The contractor workers, who went on a work stoppage without following the right channels of presenting their grievances to their directors opted to picket at the Watson Stadium, which is next to the KCM Corporate Head Office.
“KCM’s considered position is that the demonstrations and picketing are illegal and an affront to the Industrial and Labour Relations Laws of Zambia,” he said in a statement.
And Mines Minister Paul Kabuswe confirmed the development saying that it was difficult to intervene in the matter because the workers belonged to contractors.
Mr Kabuswe said the workers wanted to be employed by KCM.
“I received a call from KCM and they have not yet reached an agreement. They are at loggerheads as we speak,” Mr Kabuswe said in an interview.
He said that he would engage the two warring parties to ensure that they come up with an amicable solution.
Mr Kabuswe said he would do everything possible to ensure that the miners returned to work because the work stoppage would have a negative impact on the economy.
“This issue will be dealt with, it’s just that I have been a bit busy but I will make sure that both parties come to an understanding,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Joseph Chewe said that a number of mine workers had staged the protests.
Mr Chewe said that he could not however chip in because the organisations involved were not part of MUZ.