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Monday, October 10, 2011

Zambia miners end strikes after big pay rise

Mon Oct 10, 2011

* Union says workers' pay doubled
* Government intervenes to end strike

LUSAKA Oct 10 (Reuters) - Zambians striking over poor pay at Chinese mines went back to work on Monday after winning a nearly 100 percent pay rise, just over two weeks after a new president took office on the promise of improving mining conditions.

"All the workers today went back to work. The lowest paid worker will now get a basic pay of 2 million kwacha per month, which is almost double what they used to get," Mine Workers Union of Zambia acting president Charles Mukuka said.

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

Another 500 workers at the Chinese-owned Sino Metals copper processing plant also went on strike demanding higher pay, prompting the government to intervene.

"The managements agreed on the new pay after a meeting which was also attended by officials from the ministry of labour," Mukuka said.

Long-time opposition leader Michael Sata won election in the southern African country on Sept. 20 on a populist platform that included criticism of foreign investors and promises to improve the lives of workers.

In his first official meeting as president, Sata saw Chinese ambassador Zhou Yuxiao in an effort to dispel fears his sometimes fierce anti-Chinese rhetoric while in opposition would translate into a shift in investment policy.

He also made clear that Chinese companies, which have ploughed more than $2 billion into developing the mining sector, would not get preferential treatment. (sourced Reuters)

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