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Zambia threatens new law to protect welfare of mine-workers

by Oscar Nkala

The Zambian government has threatened to impose a new law to protect mineworkers from labour-related abuse that includes the “casualization” of labour, the payment of poor salaries and operating under poor working conditions.

Speaking during a tour of provincial mines in the Copperbelt Province, Labour minister Joyce Simukoko said the visit gave her a personal experience of the poor conditions of service in the majority of mines.

The minister said due to commitment to addressing the plight of workers in the mining industry, the government will consider imposing a new law specifically designed to protect the welfare of workers in the sector.

Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MWUZ) Secretary-General Joseph Chewe said working conditions in the mines remained “harzadous” and unfair to the workers who earn salaries way below the poverty datum line.

Among other solutions, he said the government should set a minimum wage for workers in the mining sector and the rest of the extractive industry.

The union fears that with the advent of contracting mining and out-sourcing of labour in the mining industry, workers stand to lose more, with a potential increase in job redundancies and labour-related abuse.

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