By William Milasi
MINE workers are yet to enjoy proceeds from the sector with some living in squalid living conditions.
In his Labour Day message, Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Mineral Workers Union (ZDAMWU) Secretary General Justice Chinhema called on government to address the mine workers’ concerns which include poor remuneration, bad living and working conditions.
“The mining industry has for years been the backbone of our economy and a major provider of employment in Zimbabwe, but the benefits of these contributions to development have always been overshadowed by the industry’s poor health and safety records as well as the living standards of workers. Today, some mine workers continue to endure harsh working conditions, including, crowded living in dilapidated old houses, inhabitant houses made of corrugated sheets, plastics, timber, timber, and separation from their family members to live in barracks =. Even this sector’s commitment to the development of communities where mining is taking place or affected by mining is questionable.
“As ZDAMWU we acknowledge and believe that the development of acceptable and sustainable housing and living conditions for mineworkers can be realized if mining companies’ takes serious steps to invest in workers housing loans through partnering with councils,” he said.
Chinhema said mine workers are an important stakeholder in the extraction of mineral resources worldwide, and are a vital cog that drives the Zimbabwean economy.
“This therefore means mine workers’ welfare should always be a priority. Today mine workers are earning slave wages, below a living wage and below the value of production and minerals mined. This means we have nothing to celebrate but to start organising ourselves towards real transformation.
“As key economic drivers of economic growth we need to tell the government and employers in the sector that real development will only be achieved through empowerment of mine workers. Real community development or economic development is when mine workers are empowered and when mine workers start to earn a living wage commensurate with the value of minerals mined.
He added: “It is with this in mind that today on this May Day, we make a bold and strong demand of seven deliverables which are profit sharing for transformation of living standards, share ownership schemes for community development, value addition of minerals and beneficiation for job creation and security, an end to casualisation of labour and labour broking, an end to all forms of harassment on female workers, decent accommodation for employees, safe working environment. This is the only way mine workers can be recognised as key economic drivers and this is when we shall see real economic development and transformation of communities where mining is taking place. Engagement will soon be starting in the spirit of win-win principles,” he said