Paladin, Malawi workers agree to end Kayelekera mine strike

The employees at Malawi’s largest mining investment, Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga, have agreed with uranium producer Paladin Energy Ltd to end the industrial action which started on Friday.

Paladin said full production at the uranium project is expected to resume Wednesday evening.

The Malawian workers were demanding for 66 percent salary increase to compensate for the devaluation of the local currency.


Australia’s Paladin restarts Kayelekera uranium output

Paladin Africa managing director John Borshoff in a statement described the demands as unrealistic and “extremely” unfortunate, saying the striking workforce was provoked by a small “militant core”.

Chairperson of the company’s Local Staff Association, Emmanuel Makolo, confirmed that they have agreed to go back to work.

The government officials have also applauded the employees for their understanding during the negotiation process which resulted in calling off the industrial action on Thursday, May 17.

The labour officials made the commendation at the end of a meeting between Paladin Africa Limited (PAL) who are owners and operators of Kayelekera Mine and representatives of local employees (LSA members).

Four senior industrial relations officers from the Ministry of Labour who included W. Mjaidi, G. Nkuna, K. Kaonga and E. M. Kayange witnessed the signing ceremony of the Dispute Resolution Agreement between PAL and LSA.

“It is not wrong to lawfully demand what one thinks is right… But we would like to commend the local employees for their understanding during the entire negotiation process,” an official told Nyasa Times.

In the resolution agreement, Paladin and its local workforce, among others, agreed that the local staff will undertake to perform normal duties without further industrial action except as provided for under the Labour Relations Act 16 of 1996.

The two parties also agreed that the local employees drop their demands for salary increment and setting of local salaries pegged to US$. PAL has also agreed to undertake to conduct a review of local salaries within six months from May 7, 2012 in line with the increasing cost of living.

However, the Local Staff Association will have to provide input for the consideration of management at the country’s largest mining investment in the cost of living review. Paladin further undertook that there will be no job losses in respect of the seven-day industrial action but there will be no pay for the days the employees missed from work.

The Dispute Resolution Agreement was signed on behalf of Paladin by its top bosses in Malawi Mark Chalmers, Greg Walker and John Chandler while Chairperson of LSA, Emmanuel Makolo, led eight other members of his team in signing the document. The four labour officials also appended their signatures.

The plant at Kayelekera operated at 65 percent capacity throughout most of the strike, and the work stoppage is expected to have little impact on Paladin’s full-year production forecast of 7.4 million to 7.9 million pounds of uranium.

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