Over 1000 mine workers lose jobs since lockdown onset – union

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By Staff Reporter

OVER 1000 workers who have been employed in the country’s mining sector have lost their jobs since the beginning of the lockdown in March.

A lot of mines have either scaled down operations or have totally shut down due to operational challenges brought by the Covid-19 induced lockdown measures.

“To date, over 1000 employees have lost their jobs since the beginning of lockdown and we are still compiling our lists,” Justice Chinhema, general secretary of the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) said in an interview.

“More workers in the mining sector are also expected to lose their jobs in the coming months, as mines are either scaling down operations or closing entirely.”.

Chinhema said the major reasons for the job loses could be attributed to global markets which closed since the emergence of Covid-19.

“Mine owners, for instance, in chrome mining sector, are stuck with tonnages of their produce because there are no markets.

“The global markets have closed. This ultimately creates a situation where workers will be thrown in the streets.

“Most small-scale chrome mines were delivering their chrome to Chinese enterprises who were doing the washing and exporting chrome.

“Now because there is no movement, borders are closed. They used to take it through Beira.

“The Chinese companies who we working with the small scale chrome mines have sent all their workers home.

“Families are struggling with hunger and poverty in mining communities is going up,” he said.

Chinhema called for the establishment of a mining industry fund.

“We propose that the mining Industry have a fund that should cater for such people in case of disasters like Covid-19, so that workers continue receiving their pay. They should be considered for the food relief from social welfare,” he said.

He added that the situation was dire especially among workers under Chinese employ.

“Some workers are still being told ‘we will call you’. But with the surge of Covid-19, we don’t see it happening.

“Chinese employers don’t pay without any work done. What’s so sad is that most of these workers were not registered with any pension or even NSSA.

“They were signing fixed one month contracts. They were not accruing any leave, so basically at the end of the day, there is nothing to claim as payment,” he said.