A BITTER strike in Zambia’s copper mines ended last week with some concessions by managers, but with many workers angry that their union leaders had sold them short.
Copper is Zambia’s most important export. The mines were privatised four years ago under pressure from the IMF and World Bank, mining multinationals and sections of Zambia’s business elite.
The recent strike, by about 11,000 miners, broke out at the Konkola and Nchanga mines and then spread to the Chambishi mine and the Nkana smelter.
All but Chambishi are owned by Konkola Copper Mines, which is itself 79 percent owned by British listed Vedanta Resources.
The strike began with workers stoning management and marching through the mine office complexes, removing computer equipment.
Zambia is one of the world’s poorest countries, with 80 percent of people living on less than $1 a day.
Miners are one of the few groups with sufficient social power to hit back and battle for improved conditions.
After over a week on strike and with copper production halted, the miners’ union leaders accepted a deal.
Many miners were angry and smashed the windows and punctured the tyres of cars belonging to executives.