Zambian miners attacked two Chinese supervisors on Saturday, killing one and seriously wounding another, in a wage dispute at the Chinese-owned Collum Coal Mine located in the Southern Province’s Sinazongwe district.
50-year-old Wu Shengzai is said to have been killed when rioting miners pushed a mining trolley truck over him in an underground shaft.
According to Reuters:
Workers at the Collum mine, situated 325km (200 miles) south of the capital, attacked the Chinese men demanding wage rises in line with those stipulated by the government in July.
Zambia last month raised minimum wages to 522,000 kwacha ($110) for maids and household servants, and to 1.1 million kwacha ($220) for shop workers without unions.
“We are yet to establish the exact circumstances but the report I have is that one Chinese was killed and another injured as the workers demanded the new minimum wage,” [labor minister Fackson Shamenda] told Reuters on Sunday.
Different numbers have been offered by the media as to how much salaries fell short of the new minimum wage targets. According to the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the coal miners were paid about $80 a month, and according to the Wall Street Journal, they were getting $150.
According to an article that appears to have just been taken offline at the website of the Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ), the Collum mine was recently fined 720 million Zambian kwacha (US$146,000) for illegal operation:
[EIZ president Eng Bernard Chiwala] said the penalty slapped on the mine was arrived at after EIZ inspectors discovered that the mine and its four subsidiaries were not registered with the institution.
“In our quest to regulate the practice of engineering, on June 14th, 2012, EIZ commissioned inspectors to carry out unannounced inspections on Collum Coal Mine located in Sinazeze, Sinazongwe District, it was discovered that all of the four mines of Collum Coal are not registered as per requirement of the Act and therefore have been operating illegally,” he said.
He said none of 489 local employees including 49 Chinese Nationals doing engineering works are registered with EIZ.