500 Zambian miners fired after violence during strike

Tear gas attacks by soldiers during anti-government protests.

The workers walked out on Monday in protest at low pay and dangerous working conditions in the chinese-owned Chambishi mine.

Submitted by jef costello on March 6, 2008

Violence broke out on Tuesday amid reports that the chinese management were planning to leave on holiday rather than negotiate with striking workers. Reports conflict but it appears that workers threw stones and then burned a kitchen and a guard's post on the site, with management taking refuge until the arrival of riot police. One manager and two workers were reported injured.

Seven union officials have been arrested and the sacked workers have been given three days to submit a letter to the company to ask for their jobs back.

51 workers were killed in an explosion at the mine three years ago; workers have repeatedly accused management of imposing unsafe working practises and low wages. Union officials have accused management of violating Zambian Labour laws.

Chinese management are widely disliked and distrusted, in a previous dispute at logo China Nonferrous Metal Mining (Group) management were accused of firing on strikers, injuring five although police later claimed responsibility for the shootings.

The government has denied siding with the company against the workers at Chambishi but has condemned workers for not using proper mediation chanels. The government is currently involved in negotiations with mining companies over a windfall tax, an increase in other taxation and a 35% increase in electricity prices.