Mining Workers Petition Govt Over Being ‘Turned Labourers’

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By Staff Reporter

MINE workers have petitioned government over what they feel were unfair labour practices by employers who have virtually turned them into mere labourers operating on short-term contracts.

In a letter to government recently, the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) said the casualisation of labour has become rampant among Zimbabwean mines.

The workers group said the problem emanated from the National Employment Council (NEC) which has not gazetted limits on the number of fixed term contracts within the mining industry.

“We address the Honourable Minister in reference to rampant casualisation of labour in the mining industry.

“The problem is emanating from the fact that our NEC has not set limits on a number of fixed term contracts in the mining industry,” Zdamwu said.

The union claimed most mines were exploiting their employees.

“Most employers in the mining industry are making workers sign consecutive fixed term contract on end.

“There is no cap as to the number of fixed term contracts a person can sign.

“Employees end up being engaged for several years but being made to sign a fixed term contract usually every month, or if one is lucky, they get a three month contract.

“This is being done regardless of the fact that the particular job will be permanent in nature.

“This was never the intention of the legislature when it provided for fixed term contracts. Fixed term contracts are mostly for temporary work, seasonal, or for a specific task.

“The mining industry is abusing this by engaging workers on short term contracts, thereby destroying job security completely.

“How can a person work for one company for 10 years continuously but remains a contract worker?” the union wrote.

The union is calling upon the minister to exercise his powers and set limits one could work on fixed contract.

“Our NEC has not set limits by amending or incorporating the spirit of Act 5 of 2015. However, as you may note, there is remedy provided for at law in case the specific industry NEC sleeps on the job.

“The honourable Minister was given the powers so to set the limits,” Zdamwu wrote, adding, “It is high time the Honourable Minister exercise his powers and address this issue as soon as possible.”