Miners put down tools, want more money in their pockets

More than 500 Zambian workers at Sino Metals copper processing plant went on strike on Friday for higher wages, in the latest industrial action to hit Africa’s top copper producer, just two weeks after its new president took office on the promise of improving conditions at Chinese-owned mines.

“The strike today spread to Sino Metals where workers want higher salaries,” National Union of Mine and Allied Workers general secretary Goodwell Kaluba told Reuters on Friday.

About 2,000 Zambian workers at NFC Africa Mining, majority-owned by China Nonferrous Metals Mining Corporation, went on a strike on Tuesday demanding for higher wages.

Chambishi is operated by Chinese-owned NCFA Mining, a unit of China Nonferrous Metals Corp. Union representatives were due to start labor negotiations with Chambishi management next month for the 2012 labor deal, in which unions are expected to seek a more than 10% pay rise.

However, encouraged by promises of improved pay following the triumph of Michael Sata in the presidential election last month, the miners have since raised the bar, according to union representatives.

An average Zambian miner earns around $450 a month but the wages at Chinese-owned mines are lower, at around $250 a month, according to union officials. Chambishi produces around 65,000 metric tons of copper every year.


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