THE Mine Workers Union of Zambia says it will not allow retrenchments in the mining sector on account of increased taxes. In an interview, MUZ president Joseph Chewe said mining companies have been resorting to retrenching workers whenever they wanted to reduce their costs.

“The union will not support any retrenchment and government must also not allow any company to retrench as a result of increased taxes,” Chewe said. “So even the government must open its doors to the mining companies to present its issues in regard to taxes and the government must be very firm with them.”

Chewe said workers should not be the targets whenever there was an increase in taxes and fuel prices but that employers should look at other channels to reduce costs. He said if the trend of ‘fixing’ workers whenever the government increased taxes continued, the country would have no jobs. He said the mining sector should be the second largest employer, from the government, and should not be in the forefront of downsizing. Chewe said MUZ would continue advocating job creation and protection in the mining sector. He said MUZ had been holding meetings with some mining companies in an effort to come up with the best way to resolve and end the trend of seeing workers as the only solution in reducing operational costs in a company. Chewe said it was important for the government to sit down with all mining companies and discuss the issues that the sector was facing with regards taxes.

He said the mining sector should also pay taxes to the government.

“We have continued to emphasise that the government should not allow any mining company to retrench on the basis of taxes. The companies should resolve the issues of taxes with the government. Issues of fuel and electricity are issues that can be handled by the company. And this trend has been very worrisome, where each time there is an increase in either such commodities, the easy fix is a worker, which is not right and as a union we are concerned,” he said.

And Chewe said MUZ has been discussing with Mopani Copper Mines concerning downsizing and that the union has asked the mine to target top structures and not the lower level.

He said those at the top were the ones who drew a lot of money unlike an ordinary miner therefore, if labour was to be reduced MCM should look at those holding higher offices.

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