August 20, 2010 (DOW JONES)---
Zambia's mining unions will next week hold demonstrations against plans by the country's largest copper miner, Konkola Copper Mines, to outsource labor at some of its mines in the Copperbelt, a union official told Dow Jones Newswires Friday.
Union representatives have notified the police in the cities of Kitwe and Chilibombwe in the Copperbelt and the demonstrations will go ahead as planned on Monday next week, Sikufela Mundia, president of National Union of Miners and Allied Workers, said.
KCM, a unit of London-listed Vedanta Resources PLC (VED.LN), is planning to outsource labor at its Nchanga unit, a move expected to make 170 miners jobless.
"Management and government have failed to listen to us," Mundia said, adding that he government as a shareholder in KCM should prevail upon the management and prevent it from adopting plans that will make miners jobless.
Zambia's state mining investment company, Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines Investment Holdings, owns a minority stake in KCM.
According to union officials, if left unchecked, outsourcing is likely to spread to other mining companies in the country.
Union official said that outsourcing deprives workers of permanent and pensionable jobs and have warned that this could stir industrial unrest in the country.
Zambia is Africa's largest copper producer.
According to Mundia, the demonstrations will be peaceful and aimed at drawing the attention of management and government
However, past protests in the Copperbelt have turned violent, according to people familiar with the situation.
A KCM spokesman couldn't comment immediately.
Earlier this month, KCM defended its plans to outsource labor, saying it was a survival strategy geared toward reducing costs and boosting efficiency.
Since 2004, KCM has been implementing various expansion projects aimed at increasing its annual copper production to 500,000 metric tons by 2011-12 from 305,000 tons currently.
Last year the company announced plans to cut monthly costs from $10 million to $6.5 million.