10.11.2008 @20:58 EAT Workers union call for caution on sale of mine By Mwanamkasi Jumbe THE CITIZEN A workers union has urged the Government to ensure workers' concerns are addressed in the sale of shares of Williamson Diamond Mine, a giant mining concern in Shinyanga Region. Addressing a press conference in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the Tanzania Mines, Energy, Construction and Allied Workers Union, (Tamico) said priority should be given to workers when the shares are sold. "We recommend that a decision be made to sell the shares in such a way that employees benefit or are not left in very difficult situations," said the union's chairman, Mr Mbaraka Igangula. He said based on previous experiences of similar deals in the country, his union was concerned about the possibility of sidelining workers at the diamond mine. He cited the cases of the Kiwira Coal, El-hilal and Buhemba Gold mines saying the workers there were living under very difficult circumstances. "Some of them are forced to go without salaries for months after the careless privatisation of these mines," he said. Mr Igangula said most mines had been "carelessly" sold to local investors who had no capacity to run the businesses, much to the detriment of workers. He said some locals could not operate big mines, which needed huge capital investment and modern technology. "Others lack professionalism and do not consider the needs of their workers," he said. According to him, people working at locally owned mines were the least paid in the country, a situation he attributed to the disregard of the welfare of employees by owners. Mr Igangula said the Williamson Diamonds Mine needed Sh90 billion to purchase a new plant to double its production at an operational cost of Sh4 billion per day. He said the company was also spending Sh437 million per month on salaries alone. Wilcroft Company Ltd, with 75 percent shares of the Mwadui mine, runs the mine on behalf of Cheviot Holdings Ltd. Last month, the government denounced De Beers, which said it sold its stake in the mine for $10 million to a UK firm, Petra Diamonds Limited.