Following the election victory last week of Michael Sata, an outspoken critic of Chinese labour abuses in Zambia’s mining industry, Christian Science Monitor reports that one Chinese mine has given employees a sudden 85% pay raise. It appears that the company prepared two different sets of paychecks, to be issued according to the election results.
At the Chinese-owned Chambishi Copper Mine in this Copperbelt town, mine operator Hedges Mwaba, received two different paychecks: one for his usual salary of 2.9 million kwacha ($600 US) and another 4.8 million (about $1000) ….
“What is weird is that I got two pay slips,” Mwaba tells the Monitor. “It looks like the Chinese had prepared for any outcome of the election by printing two pay slips for us for the month of September. If the incumbent Movement for Multi party Democracy MMD [incumbent President Rupiah Banda] had won the presidential election, we would have been paid old meager salaries. But we got almost double the money because the opposition Patriotic Front led by Michael Sata won the election.”
The Chambishi mine has seen clashes between Zambian workers and Chinese managers in the past: in 2006, five workers were shot and wounded during riots over a pay dispute, while in 2008 a group of 500 workers attacked managers during talks over working conditions. The mine was also the site of a 2005 explosion which killed 50.