Jan 24, 2011 (Dow Jones Commodities News via Comtex) -- Workers at Kansanshi Mining PLC (KANS.ZZ), which operates Zambia's largest copper mine by output, are seeking higher wages this year in an annual labor deal, citing impressive global copper prices, union officials said Monday.
Union representatives are slated to start labor talks Monday with management and expect to clinch an improved deal in the next few weeks, National Miners & Allied Workers Union President Sikufela Mundia told Dow Jones Newswires.
"Workers want improved conditions of service because copper prices are doing very well on the international market," he said.
People close to the situation say that the miners want at least a 15% pay rise from management. A company spokesman wasn't immediately able to comment.
Kansanshi Copper Mines is a unit of Toronto-listed First Quantum Minerals Ltd. (FQVLF).
Zambian miners unions are currently in negotiations with various mining companies to seek higher pay citing better copper prices and rising costs of living due to inflationary pressures and increasing food prices.
Miners at Mopani Copper Mines PLC (MOPANI.ZM) last week agreed to a 10.5% pay rise after weeks of negotiations, but union representatives are yet to agree deals with management of companies like Konkola Copper Mines PLC (KONKOLA.ZM) and
Chinese-owned NFCA Mining PLC, which operates the Chambishi and Luanshya Copper Mines.
Union officials say that they won't accept pay increments below the inflation rate, which stood at 7.9% in December, according to the Central Statistic office.
People close to the situation say that the union's demands could stir labor unrest as mining companies continue to cut rising mining costs.
Company data indicates that last year, Kansanshi's copper output dropped to 230,800 metric tons from 244,979 tons in 2009.
First Quantum announced in November last year that it had posted a third-quarter loss, hurt by the closure of its Frontier copper Mine in Congo and increased mining costs.