Mine Workers Demand US Dollar Wages, Rejects NEC Offer

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By Staff Reporter

MINE workers have rejected a 22% wage hike awarded to them by employers arguing this was a pittance considering the country’s poverty datum line now averaging $40 000.

In an interview, Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) general secretary Justice Chinhema said workers were rejecting the NEC outcome.

“We are once again dismayed with the outcome of the National Employment Council (NEC) wage negotiations.

“The 22,2% translating to RTGS$22 000 minimum wage agreed by the NEC is nothing short of an insult to the suffering mine workers,” Chinhema said.

He said the Chamber of Mines and Associated Mine Workers Union, which is part of NEC, had not reached any wage agreement.

“Following pressure from mine workers through ZDAMWU, we saw an about turn on the issue. Instead of doing things the right way, we get this insult, a slap in the face for the mine worker,” he said.

The trade unionist said workers were going to fight the “slave wage”.

“From the $22 000 which is being offered for a minimum wage, 52% is being paid in US dollars and the balance on the auction rate, this means a mine worker is to get an equivalent of US$265 per month.

“We are going to fight that slave wage. Mine workers are the drivers of our economy. Government has set a target to have a 12 billion dollar mining economy by 2030. That will not be achieved if our mine workers are demotivated,” he said.

He said mine workers were not going to relent on demanding Covid-19 allowances.

“We still maintain that mine workers must get a Covid-19 allowance. That was supposed to be the first port of negotiations before any talks about basic wages.

“The mining industry is declared an essential service, we cannot give a salary increase without considering the risks these workers are facing during Covid-19.

“The negotiators should have secured a Covid-19 allowance first. Government is offering US$75 Covid-19 allowance to its employees. Why wouldn’t the negotiators first secure the Covid-19 allowance before any wage negotiations? That was the whole point of negotiations,” he said.

Chinhema added that mining employers were retaining 60% of their sales in foreign currency.

“Mining employers are retaining 60% of the sales in gold sector, which is major, why then did the negotiators fail to secure the allowance.

“They just secured a percentage of nothing, workers are not going to accept that. We are going to continue calling for the Covid-19 allowances.

“The salary increment offered is way below the poverty datum line. To make matters even worse in the mining districts, service providers have dollarised. This increase therefore means nothing to the workers.

“The negotiators should have secured a 100% USD salary increment. As mine workers, we are looking at the minimum wage of between US$400- US$600 which can translate to $40 000 RTGS.

“The new wage offer is nothing but wage theft from mine employees that is going to be resisted,” he said.