Miners Union refuse to be used by Stanbic over members controversial loans

Miners Union refuse to be used by Stanbic over members controversial loans

The Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) has distanced itself from attempts by Stanbic bank and Mopani Copper mines to further manipulate miners whose loans Stanbic has been extending illegally.

In March this year (2019), more than 160 miners working for Mopani Copper mines sued Stanbic Bank Zambia Ltd for illegal and exploitative deductions from their accounts and for illegally and unilaterally increasing their loan tenure from 5 to 10 years.
But after receiving court summons and appearing in the Ndola High Court, Stanbic Bank started conniving with Mopani Copper mines to avoid the court process. Just after its lawyers and directors returned from the court on Wednesday last week, Stanbic colluded with Mopani Copper Mines to stick notices all over the Mopani premises notifying miners that they can ignore the court process but just go and discuss with the bank. In the notice, Stanbic Bank told the victims to go back to the bank and negotiate. But typical of the scammer bank, miners were being told to approach the bank individually. Stanbic and Mopani further lied in the same notice that the Mine Workers Union of Zambia was part of the scheme as MUZ had made presentations (agreements) to Stanbic bank over a solution to the loans.
But now the MUZ has distanced itself from the Stanbic, Mopani lies saying it can’t comment on a matter that is in court.

‘We regret to advise management that our position on this matter as per our members wish is that we shall neither present nor comment on the issue which is before the court of law,’ said MUZ in a letter to Mopani Copper Mines Human Resources Superintendent.

MUZ further demanded that Mopani Copper mine should withdraw the notice to its members: ‘we further request that management retracts the memo as our members continue making personal decisions regarding this matter.’

The letter, dated 21 May 2019, was signed by Mine Workers Union of Zambia branch chairpersons for Nkana Main, Mindolo, Nkana Trust, Mufulira Main and Butondo.

‘Mopani management in their notice had indicated that the MOU between the company and the bank had been terminated but they still went ahead to assist their fraud partners to issue the notice,’ complained one affected person.

‘Interestingly, Mr. Chilanga one of the Chief officials at Mopani happened to be a board member of Stanbic bank when the MOU was signed,’ the Watchdog has been informed.

Another affected person explained that, ‘while Mopani claim to have terminated the MOU, they have not terminated their obligation to remit money to Stanbic. Further, the company still acts on behalf of the predator Bank without shame.

‘When employees looked to their employer for help, the employer (Mopani) recused themselves from the matter by stating that they terminated the MOU and it remained for individual employees to deal with the without involving the company. The only logical conclusion is that the company went to bed with the predator. They are both covering each other through correcting their defective notice to the borrowers. They wanted to use the union as a scapegoat but MUZ has been too quick to understand the dirty tricks.’

BACKGROUND
In March 2019, more than 160 miners working for Mopani Copper mines sued Stanbic Bank Zambia Ltd for illegal and exploitative deductions from their accounts and for illegally and unilaterally increasing their loan tenure from 5 to 10 years.
In a class action case, the miners applied to the Ndola High Court for an interim injunction to stop Stanbic from deducting money from their salaries until the court decides whether the Bank is in order to do such deductions.
In 2013/2014 Stanbic and Mopani entered into an agreement whereby stanbic agreed to provide scheme loans to Mopani copper mines employees. Mopani was obligated to deduct money from employees’ salaries and remit it to the bank.
According to sources, Stanbic was selected to provide this financial service because it hoodwinked Mopani that it offered the most affordable and wide range of products. The interest rate at the time of signing the loans was 15% and the tenure (period of contract) was five years.
But barely 3 months into the loans contract, the bank unilaterally increased interest rates to the detriment of the miners. Stanbic continued with the variations (increments) of interest rates until they reached 40% from 15%.
Mopani copper mines terminated the MOU following a misunderstanding arising from the bank’s upping of interest.
The net effect of such variations was that the loan tenure changed from 5 year to 10(on paper) and might even be for life if not stopped, according to court papers seen by the Watchdog.
Miners are therefore challenging the legality of such variations and have applied for an interim injunction pending determination of the matter.

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