Kagem Mining has successfully concluded negotiations with the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers and the Mineworkers' Union of Zambia regarding improved conditions of service and salaries for employees at the Kagem emerald mine in Zambia.
Kagem Mining, which is 75% owned by Gemfields and 25% by the Industrial Development Corporation of Zambia, owns and operates the Kagem emerald mine – said to be the world’s single largest producing emerald mine
Despite disappointing auction revenues at its recently concluded Lusaka auction of high quality emeralds and the loss of production due to the recent work stoppage, the company has, in addition to new allowances including an education allowance, agreed to pay a 10% salary increase effective 1 April 2018 with a further 10% increase effective from 1 January 2019 (and up to 31 December 2019).
The agreement follows extensive negotiations between the management and union representatives, during which time a group of employees stopped work given a difference of opinion between them and union leaders regarding adherence to the well-established collective bargaining process. That group, incited by ring leaders, ignored the directive of the unions that they return to work and proceeded instead with four days of illegal industrial action.
Subsequently, the negotiations were concluded and the new collective agreement was signed. The branch union visited the mine to brief union members about the duly concluded arrangements. However, the ring leaders instigated a “walkout” so that the briefing could not complete and sought to undermine the duly concluded agreement.
Kagem Mining believes that providing a safe and constructive working environment for all employees is fundamental in protecting the interests of all stakeholders. As such, and in forestalling further illegal industrial action, 15 individuals have since been dismissed.
“Kagem is pleased to have reached a balanced agreement following a protracted series of negotiations with union representatives.
“We now look forward to continuing our strategy of growing Kagem into a national champion that the whole country should be proud of. The vast majority of our team members are dedicated and hard-working and we thank them sincerely for their ongoing efforts in pursuing our shared objectives” says Kagem Mining General Manager Prahalad Kumar Singh, who confirmed that all employees had returned to work and the mine was operating normally.
He added that the pay rise was in line with market conditions, reflecting both low production volumes and a financial loss at Kagem during its 2017 financial year, as well as a more promising outlook going forward. Commensurate improvements in productivity were expected to help boost output and thus increase tax and dividend payments to the government and IDC of Zambia respectively, as well as additional support for the community as part of the company’s ethos of sharing the benefits of Kagem’s resources in a responsible manner.