Business, Economics and Jobs

Zambian miners kill Chinese supervisor in a protest against low wages


Chinese miner owners endanger Zambian miners, according to a new report by Human Rights Watch. Chinese labor practices have been an issue in Zambia for several years. Here Zambia police officers protesters from demonstrating in front of the Chinese Embassy in Lusaka on October 19, 2010 after 13 Zambian miners were allegedly shot by two Chinese managers.


Thomas Nsama

Zambian coal miners killed a Chinese mine manager during a protest, Agence France-Presse reported. The mineworkers were rioting during a strike at the Chinese-owned Collum Coal mine in Sinazongwe, demanding to be paid at least $220 a month. Mine manager Wu Shengzai, 50, was killed as he tried to run away from protesters and seek refuge underground. The protesters pushed a trolley at him and he died on the spot, the AFP reported. "I don't understand why there is always tension between Chinese investors and workers at Collum," Labor Minister Fackson Shamenda told the AFP.

The workers were angry because they were being paid less than minimum wage, BBC News reported. The Zambian government last month raised the minimum wage to $220 a month for workers, but the new minimum wage had not been implemented yet at the Collum Coal mine. 

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Chinese companies have invested more than $1 billion in copper-rich Zambia, Reuters reported, but Zambian workers accuse the firms of abusing and underpaying their workers. The protest comes after a damning Human Rights Watch investigation was released last November. Human Rights Watch found that "Chinese-run copper mining companies in Zambia routinely flout labor laws and regulations designed to protect workers’ safety."

And in 2010, two Chinese supervisors at the Collum coal mine were charged with attempted murder, after 13 Zambian miners were shot.