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Chinese diamond mine struggles to pay wages
24/10/2014 00:00:00
by The Source
 
Trying to reduce the number of companies at Marange ... Walter Chidhakwa
 
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ANJIN Diamond Mine workers in Chiadzwa have returned to work after management promised to pay their outstanding salaries for September, The Source has established.

Over 200 workers at the mine downed tools last week demanding to be paid their outstanding salaries for September as well as for October amid claims that the company, which three years ago claimed to be largest producer of diamonds in the world, was facing viability problems.

Anjin, one of the seven firms licensed to mine the vast government-controlled Marange diamond field, is a joint venture between China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co and Zimbabwean state entities and began operations in 2009.

Marange firms have, since 2013, reported diminishing alluvial diamond deposits in the area.

The miners, who have been engaged in open cast operations, said they had hit hard rock and that deep seated conglomerate diamonds were not commercially viable.

Workers, who declined to be named for fear of victimisation, told The Source on Friday that they had entered into a written agreement with management which promised to pay the outstanding salaries for September on October 30 and for this month on November 20.

“We returned to work after management promised us that they would pay our balance salaries for September at the end of this month. We have a written agreement and if they fail to pay we will go back on strike,” said a worker who declined to be named.

According to a workers union official, the lowest paid worker at Anjin earns $310 monthly, but employees were only paid between $120 and $130 for September.

Another worker said the company was ambivalent about pay dates saying it had negotiated a loan but was unsure when it would receive the money.

Anjin officials were not immediately available to comment.

Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union president Cosmas Sunguro recently told The Source that workers in the diamond sector were experiencing many challenges, including late payment of wages and salaries and firms refusing to disclose production figures, thus compromising the union’s bargaining powers.

He said some workers were made to work for 12 hours instead of the stipulated eight hours, while accidents in the workplace were also on the increase.



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Last month, Mines Minister Walter Chidhakwa said the government had started the process of integrating Marange, Gye Nyame and Kusena into one company.

The government has said it wants up to two miners to operate in the area to minimise leakages and improve accountability.


 
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