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Mine needs winwin solution

MOPANI Copper Mines’ (MCM) decision to resume operations early this week is indeed commendable and reignites hope for the many employees whose lives were in a limbo.

Last month, the mine suspended its operations in Kitwe and Mufulira, sending 11,000 employees on forced leave.
It is however elating that after Government engaged Glencore, who are the majority shareholders in Mopani over the matter, in talks, the two parties have finally come to an agreement this week to recall miners.
According to Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) George Mumba, the mine started recalling the workers on Wednesday.
“Mopani has started recalling the workers and some of them have since reported for work. They are not calling them at once but they have been doing it in phases,” he said.
And United Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Wisdom Ngwira has also confirmed that the mine has resumed production in Mufulira and that the miners are now being inducted on the safety measures.
“The miners had stayed away from work for some time now, so they will have to be inducted on the safety measures at the mine before normal work resumes,” he said.
A double thumbs up to Government and MCM for reaching such an amicable decision to restore the dignity of the employees.
When Mopani Copper Mines announced its decision to close operations in Kitwe and Mufulira last month and subsequent laying off of 11,000 employees, many people were taken aback and even angered, understandably so.
Sending 11,000 workers home meant 11,000 families losing their livelihoods.
Given that most of these employees live hand-to-mouth, it meant that these families could no longer afford decent meals, shelter, education and health care services.
The closure of the mine and sending workers home could be equated to sentencing the employees and their families to instant destitution.
The fact that the Copperbelt Province wholly depends on mining, the closure of the mine meant stripping the province of its economic dignity.
At national level, the decision meant Government losing out on revenue through taxes and worsening the poverty situation.
While it is acknowledged that companies are going through a difficult time due to COVID-19, there is need to find win-win solutions.
Companies must look at the bigger picture when coming up with drastic decisions. In this case Mopani should understand that behind those 11,000 employees are families, both nuclear and extended.
There are many lives that get support from these employees.
Taking away their only source of livelihoods means a network of family and friends is affected.
Government should be commended for standing for the Zambian workers when Mopani seemed adamant with their position.
While it is commendable that MCM has come to an agreement to recall workers, it is worrying that the matter has not be completely resolved.
Mopani still insists on issuing a 90-day notice to again place the mine under care and maintenance.
This should not be an option for MCM. Opting out when things are tough is not a solution.
Mopani should instead engage workers and strategize on how they can weather the storm.
This is the time they need to unite as a company to sustain operations. There is life after COVID-19, the prevailing situation is only temporary.
Moreover there are many other companies that have been affected by the pandemic but have not resorted to such drastic measures.
Mopani needs to hang in there and find a win-win situation.
In as much as the mine is motivated by profits, it should put on a human face and remember that these are the employees that have contributed immensely to its success over the years.
We also urge Government not to relent in engaging the mine until a win-win solution is found.



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