Rioting Zambian miners kill Chinese manager

Posted on Aug 6 2012 - 1:35pm by Scoop Hunter

Zambian miners have killed a Chinese manager by pushing a mine trolley at him during a riot at a coal mine in the south of the country. A second Chinese was injured, as were several Zambians, during the riot on Saturday.

A woman is comforted at the funeral of 51 workers killed at a Zambian copper mine owned by the Chinese in 2005. Photograph: Salim Henry/Reuters

A woman is comforted at the funeral of 51 workers killed at a Zambian copper mine owned by the Chinese in 2005. Photograph: Salim Henry/Reuters

The workers were on strike at the mine in protest against delays in implementing a new minimum wage. They were angry their wages were lower than a new minimum of $220 (£140) a month paid to shop workers.

Zambia’s minister of labour has gone to the Chinese-owned Collum coal mine in Sinazongwe, 325km (200 miles) south of the capital, Lusaka.

“Wu Shengzai, aged 50, has been killed by protesting workers after being hit by a trolley which was pushed towards him by the rioting miners as he ran away into the underground where he wanted to seek refugee,” Southern province police commissioner Fred Mutondo told state news agency, the Zambia News and Information Services.

“He died on the spot while his colleague is in hospital.” Workers at the Collum mine, situated 325km  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.

Last year, the Zambian government dropped charges against two Chinese managers accused of attempted murder after they fired on miners at the Collum mine during a pay dispute. Chinese firms own several mines in southern African countries, including coal and copper operations.

Copper mining is one of Zambia’s main industries, providing nearly three-quarters of the country’s exports; many of the mining companies are foreign-owned, and China has invested more than $400m (£250m) in Zambia.

A 2011 report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that, despite improvements in recent years, safety and labour conditions at Chinese mines were worse than at other foreign-owned mines. BBC