FQM Trident Limited, a subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals, has signed a collective bargaining agreement with four unions; the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW), Mine Workers Union of Zambia (MUZ), Miners and Allied Workers Union (MAWU) and United Mine Workers Union of Zambia (UMUZ).
Basic salaries for all eligible employees covered by the agreement will be increased by 7 per cent across the board effective January 1, 2023, to December 31, 2023, and the company will pay salary arrears relating to the agreed salary increment plus housing allowance effective January 1, 2023.
Part of the agreement states that the company will pay a 13th cheque equivalent to one month’s basic salary in December together with December salaries subject to statutory deductions such as tax and social security. This shall be pro-rated based on actual months served in a year by the employee.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, FQM Trident Acting General Manager Frederic Wouters said the agreement symbolised the common goal that was shared in ensuring that the employees get their deserved reward.
“This whole process exemplifies the maturity and trust of the relationship that the unions have created with management. As FQM Trident, we encourage an open-door policy for purposes of continuous improvement of the conditions of services our workforce. And which results in higher productivity.”
Mr Wouters said that the agreement was yet another milestone in the mining firm’s journey to improve the livelihoods of its employees in the current economic hardships, and that management appreciated the social and economic challenges its employees face.
“It is our belief that the 7 per cent increase in basic salaries awarded to eligible unionised employees will significantly cushion their financial pressures. Additionally, education allowance, shift differential and remote allowance have also been revised upwards.
“At FQM Trident, we believe in adding value to our employees in order to grow and remain productive. We support continuous skills development, by offering training and education. We ensure the safety of our employees by promoting the best safety practices and proper care for the equipment used for production,” he said.
“Overall, we recognise and reward outstanding performance. As this highlights the important role that each employee plays towards production. We believe that when our staff remains productive, we can be sure of the short-, medium- and long-term trickle effects of the mine onto the national treasury or communities and our employees. We appreciate the unions’ commitment, efficiency, and maturity in the decisive bargaining process, to close this important undertaking,” Mr Wouters added.
NUMAW National Treasurer Saul Simujika commended FQM Trident management for listening to the unions’ requests during the negotiations.
“We were able to reach a point where we had a win-win situation,” he said.
“What we would like to see as unions is a deliberate policy, arrangement, and engagement of our colleagues, the workers, and the leadership in particular. We need a clear indication in terms of communication, where issues of productivity, issues of safety, are being discussed. What we want to see is a situation where we are moving at the same level,” he added.
He further said that FQM Trident, being one of the largest producers of copper in the country, needed to put more effort into rewarding its employees, who have the task of ensuring that the mining firm remains productive.
“Mining has got a lifespan, it’s not like agriculture, where as long as it is raining, you will be able to plant. But mining or copper or minerals have got a lifespan, they are wasting assets. So, do what you can to appreciate these people when you are still at these levels of production,” he continued.
And FQM Trident Limited Human Resource Manager Brighton Mwiinga: “As FQM we always strive to do better in everything we do. This agreement demonstrates our commitment to continuous improvement in all we do. Even as we do that, we continue to benchmark against the market trends to ensure we remain relevant.”
“We are alive to the hardships and the shocks the economic environment is placing on people generally and it goes to affect not only our workforce directly but also, the viability of the business, especially as we continue to expand our business operations as a company. The bargaining process is a give-and-take. And through this process, we meet, and we met somewhere as partners,” he explained.
The agreement will cover all locally engaged monthly-salaried Grade 4 to 13 employees of the company who are members of the unions and excludes employees in Grade 14 and above, employees on senior staff conditions of employment, temporary or casual employees/learners/trainees/interns/apprentices engaged on short-term work contracts for a period of less than six (6) months and employees who are on probation.