Mine workers demand wage increase as prices skyrocket

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By William Milasi

WORKERS in the mining sector have written to the National Employment Council for the Mining Industry calling for an immediate salary adjustment to cushion them from the current economic hardships that have made life unbearable.

Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZIDAMWU) secretary general Justice Chinhema, in a letter dated 20 June 2019, said despite the mining sector being the country’s net foreign currency earner, workers in the sector were living in near destitution as most are being paid in the fast weakening RTGS currency.

“We request an urgent sitting of parties and the National Employment Council to consider salary adjustment to cushion workers.

“We are concerned with the current state of the economy and hardships being faced by workers in the industry despite being the backbone of the country in terms of foreign currency generation,” Chinhema said.

The unionist said there was need for an urgent upward review of the miners’ salaries as they have not been spared from the depressing economic situation.

“The prevailing economic situation has seen inflation skyrocketing and prices of basic goods and services rising beyond the reach of many workers…leaving them on the verge of destitution, therefore the need for an urgent wage increase,” he said.

Earlier this year, mine workers negotiated for a wage increase.

“The situation on the ground is volatile, your intervention in this matter is urgently sought.

“The 80% increase negotiated backdated to January 2019 has been eroded and never addressed the situation workers require as a living wage; instead it created confusion in the industry.

“Some mines had negotiated payments of salaries at works council in USD before the 80% increase. The increase did not stipulate or specify the currency to be used thereby creating confusion,” he said.

Employers in the sector have since reverted back to paying their workers in RTGS with the workers now demanding USD wages or RTGS equivalent.

“Industry generates foreign currency and all employers in the industry returns from 50-80% in USD after selling the minerals mined.

“We are also aware that the balance is being paid using the interbank exchange rates. Workers must also be paid in the above arrangement,” he said.