March 4, 2012 / 1:48 PM / 6 years ago

First Quantum offers Zambia miners 15 pct pay rise

LUSAKA (Reuters) - Canada’s First Quantum Minerals Ltd agreed a 15 percent pay rise with workers at its Zambian flagship copper mine on Sunday but the two sides differed over how long the agreement should stay in place, failing to end a strike which started on Thursday, a union official said.

Zambian copper mine workers wait in a lift before going to work underground in a file photo. REUTERS/Stringer

“We agreed on a 15 percent pay rise but we have differed on the tenure. The management is saying it should run for two years and we are saying it should not exceed 12 months,” acting Mine Workers’ Union of Zambia President Charles Mukuka told Reuters.

Workers at the Kansanshi mine, Zambia’s largest copper mine, which produced 231,000 tonnes of the red metal in 2010, downed tools to demand a 17 percent pay increase on Thursday.

Production at the mine ground to a halt because of the strike, prompting Zambia’s Vice-President Guy Scott to call for talks mediated by his office to try and end the work stoppage.

After a weekend of negotiations, the talks deadlocked on Sunday and the union called on the president to intervene.

“They keep on changing goal posts and this has made negotiations very difficult. We need the intervention of the head of state to quickly resolve this matter,” Mukuka said.

Kansanshi mine company spokesman Godfrey Msiska separately said work at the mine was still halted.

Glencore International Plc’s Mopani Copper Mines in Zambia agreed a 17 percent pay rise with unions in February, almost triple the rate of inflation.

Konkola Copper Mines, part of London-listed Vedanta Resources Plc, awarded a similar pay increase to its workers in January.

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