Zambian miners kill Chinese supervisor over pay

LUSAKA Sun Aug 5, 2012 3:27pm IST

LUSAKA Aug 5 (Reuters) - Zambian miners killed a Chinese supervisor and seriously wounded another on Saturday in a pay dispute at the Collum coal mine, labour minister Fackson Shamenda said on Sunday.

Chinese companies have invested more than $1 billion in copper-rich Zambia but animosity towards them is growing as Zambian workers accuse firms of abuses and underpaying.

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," Shamenda told Reuters on Sunday.

Two years ago, Zambian police charged two Chinese supervisors at the Collum coal mine with attempted murder following the shooting of 13 miners in a pay dispute.

Resource-hungry China is investing heavily in Africa, a supplier of oil and raw materials like copper and uranium, but critics have warned that its companies are importing their poor track record on workers' rights.

In July, Chinese President Hu Jintao offered $20 billion in loans to African countries over the next three years, double the amount it pledged for the previous three-year period in 2009.

(Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by Catherine Evans)