By Staff Reporter
MINE workers say the recent awarding of 24.5% translating to a $6 000 increase of their monthly salaries was not only shocking but also a disappointing outcome.
Zimbabwe Diamond Allied and Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) General-Secretary Justice Chinhema said mine employees have suffered for long with no reprieve in sight.
The union has been pushing for a 270% salary increase that would see the lowest-paid worker earning at least $65 000 (about US$740) per month.
“For three months, employers have issued contradictory statements to the extent that last month they circulated a fake document to try to silence workers from demanding a living wage,” he said.
“The workers’ struggle has been sold out. A percentage of nothing is nothing. The 24.5 % increase is an insult to the mineworkers. One wonders if these men and women purporting to represent mineworkers at NEC (National Employment Council) have any conscience or they just don’t know the situation on the ground.
“We believe they have lost touch with reality on the ground to the extent they don’t even know that most mines are able to pay and are already paying above those peanuts,” Chinhema added.
He explained the increment was out of context with the economic realities in the country.
“The $6 000 increase effective July would have made sense if it was agreed before July and paid in July and August.
“The workers’ argument is that the mining sector is the driver of our economy. This country’s economic recovery is anchored on the mining industry. The Chamber of Mines has reported profits in all the sub-sectors in gold, platinum, lithium, coke, and black granite.
“Gold mines such as Freda Rebecca, Blanket, and platinum mines are doing well. If you go there, you can appreciate what we are talking about. Then you see these guys going all over with a $6 000 increase as if it is enough to bring food on the table of a worker.
“The food basket is now said to be within the range of $45 000. This is just food and it means people no longer send their children to school. They no longer buy clothes. Do they not have extended families, don’t they fall sick? What it means is all the workers’ efforts to work during the Covid-19 pandemic have not been appreciated, only to be insulted,” he said.
The trade unionist said mineworkers were left with no choice, but to fight for a living wage at their mines.
“We are encouraging all workers’ committees to rise now, and bargain for better conditions at the works councils including other benefits that are not included in the NEC agreement for instance production bonuses.
“ZDAMWU will be escalating training programmes in bargaining skills so that workers are able to bargain for better working conditions and push for living wages. We further encourage all mineworkers to dump failed unions and come together under ZDAMWU and bargain collectively,” he said.
Mining is the country’s largest source of export revenue and together with agriculture, the sector is expected to anchor economic growth this year.