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Worker protest leaves one dead, two others injured in Kasama

One person has been killed while two others are nursing injuries, at Northern Coffee Corporation in Kateshi area in Kasama district, Northern province.

The incident follows a protest by casual workers at the company who were demanding increased salaries and improved conditions of service.

It is alleged that the man identified as Noble Mulenga, 35, died after he was hit by a stray bullet that was fired by police officers, who were trying to disperse the crowd.

Kasama District Commissioner, Elizabeth Goma, who was found at the company holding meetings with management, workers, and union representatives has expressed sadness at the death of the employee.

Mrs Goma said the death of Mr. Mulenga could have been avoided if there was a good work relationship between management and its workers.

She said it is important for the company to find an amicable way of resolving misunderstandings with their subordinates.

Mrs. Goma noted that workers also need to follow the right channel when engaging management through their unions, to air out all concerns regarding poor salaries.

She has since expressed regret at the death of the man, while calling for a thorough investigation to identify the persons who were responsible for inciting violence.

Earlier, the union representatives wanted to get management to increase their salaries.

Justine Filumba, a union representative said commotion started after the casual workers started demanding for the company management to address them over the meagre salaries.

Mr. Filumba said workers have been calling for better salaries and wanted management to assure them of better salaries.

He added that workers at the company are getting as little as K34 per day and between K600 and K800 per month which he said is too little considering the increase in food and non-food items on the market.

“People wanted to discuss with HR to see how much they would be getting to and confusion ensued and that is when police fired a shot and one person was killed in the process,” he said.

The money that people are getting is too little they get K34 and they get about K540-800 but with the increase in items how can people survive and they also need to use part of that to support their children to school,” he said.

And another employee, Esther Musonda, bemoaned management’s failure to look at the concerns of workers, saying people have to protest to have salary increments.

Ms. Musonda said workers have to protest every time, in order for management to increase their salaries.

Efforts to get a comment from the police officers failed as they referred all queries to the command who could not be reached.

Company management also declined to comment on the matter.