Malawi ex-miners storm Paladin’s Kayerekera: Claim underpaid

A group of former miners who were recently retrenched from uranium miner, Paladin, on Thursday stormed the Kayerekera mine in northern border district of Karonga, a claiming they received inadequate pay out.

Over 30 ex-mine workers stormed into the mines premises to complain about what they think was a raw deal after being retrenched.

The complaints include tax over-deductions, being denied transport to their respective homes and also loan deduction.

Some staff complains that out of their total dues, almost all the monies have been deducted and they are left with nothing.

We need our fair package: Ex-minister
We need our fair package: Ex-minister

Kayerekera management failed to contain the force they used to break past the security gates to the administration block.

The ex-miners are well organized and they hired a lorry from Karonga and travelled 55 kms to the mine site.

Members of staff at the mine were told not to come out of their offices nor peep through windows. Some Human Resources staff locked themselves in offices in fear of the ex-miners.

The mine retrenched 110 workers without giving them enough notice and even without telling them the criteria for selection. It is now rumoured that another group of 95 people face the chop.

Surprisingly, the foreign workers that are doing non-essential work are still retained by the company.

Paladin general manager Greg Walker said the job cuts  responds to continued plummeting of uranium prices from $50 (about K17 000) per lb in June 2012 to $42.25 (about K14 000)currently.

The Thursday ex-miners action was happening whilst top management of the mine are attending the 2013 Mining Indaba in South Africa, a country where recently it has been rocked by mining strikes and demonstrations.

Secretary General for Malawi Congress Trade Union (MCTU), Pontius Kalichero, said those retrenched should be paid “a fair package according to the Employment Act so that they are fairly sent home.”

Paladin said the retrenchment was done in accordance with Malawi’s Labour Law and international labour regulations to mitigate the effects of the decision on the employees.

Executive director for Institute for Policy Interaction (IPI) Rafiq Hajat is supporting the growing chorus country for Malawi to review its contract with Paladin.

“We need to carefully review the contents of the agreement and subsequent negotiations we had in 2008 so that the deal is in interest of both Paladin and Malawians.

“Otherwise, whether the global uranium prices really plunges or it’s just a ploy to instill fear in us, we won’t get the truth unless the review happens,” said Hajat.

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