Pay protest paralyses Zambia Chinese copper plant

By Chris Mfula

LUSAKA, Oct 13 (Reuters) – Production at Zambia’s Chinese-owned Chambishi Copper Smelter ground to a halt on Thursday due to a wage strike that started a day earlier, labour sources said.

In a separate incident, about 500 workers seeking higher wages walked off the job on Thursday at Zambia’s largest cobalt plant, Chambishi Metals, which is majority owned by Kazak miner ENRC .

The work stoppages are the latest labour actions to hit Africa’s top copper producer since new President Michael Sata came to power a few weeks ago and emboldened workers by saying he will fight for better pay and working conditions.

Sources at Chambishi Copper Smelter, which is majority owned by China Nonferrous Metals Mining Corporation, said access was restricted for security reasons.

“This morning CCS, stopped production of blister copper because of a strike of their workers,” a logistics source told Reuters.

Charles Mukaka, the Mine Workers Union of Zambia acting president, said the workers at Chambishi Metals wanted management to increase their salaries by 40 percent.

More than 2,000 striking Zambians at other Chinese-owned mines went back to work this week after winning nearly 100 percent pay increases.

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