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Mine workers reject 22% pay hike

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ZIMBABWE’S mining industry has granted its workers a 22% wage increase with effect from 1 October, a figure described by workers as paltry in an economy ravaged by stratospheric inflation.

Dumisani Nyoni

Zimbabwe’s annualised inflation is 659.4%; the second highest in the world after Venezuela sitting at 1 813.1% for September.

According to a circular for mines signed by representatives of the Associated Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe and Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe, the owest paid employee will now get ZW$18 000 a month, while the highest paid will get ZW$41 748.

Before the adjustment, the lowest paid worker was getting ZW$14 750, while the highest paid was getting ZW$34 210.

“This agreement is subject to review on a quarterly basis, based on the prevailing economic situation in the mining industry,” the document says.

“Non-foreign currency generating companies, upon being granted an exemption, may be allowed to pay the full US dollar amount in ZW dollars equivalent using the official bank rate.

“Those employers who are able to pay more than the National Employment Council minimums are encouraged to do so. All increases shall be based on the dollar value principle.”

The document says the portion payable in US dollars will be converted to local currency at the prevailing interbank exchange rate at the time of payment and deducted from the respective minimum wage to determine the balance to
be paid. According to the document, for the lowest paid worker, the portion payable in US dollars is US$125, while for the highest its US$291.

“For clarity, the total earnings for each grade will be equal to the respective minimum for that grade. Non-foreign currency generating companies are excluded from the requirement to pay in US dollars,” the document reads.

However, National Union of Mines, Quarry, Iron and Steel Workers of Zimbabwe representative Abraham Kavalanjila said the increment was an insult to employees.

“This is nothing at all. People need a living wage. This is a betrayal to workers. We should negotiate for a living wage, not negotiate for an increment which will lead to the suffering of workers,” he said.

“Workers need at least US$500 to start with then negotiate from there. Anything less than US$500 is nothing. Unions should focus to workers’ needs, not impress the employer. Mining is one of the most vibrant industries and needs to lead and pay something that will sustain the workers and their families.”

Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers’ Union secretary-general Justice Chinhema said the increment was way below workers’ expectations.

“In January when negotiations started, workers were made to believe that the negotiations would be aimed on achieving a living wage. The union that sits on behalf of workers is selling out. They never consulted anyone, including workers. They have lost touch with reality and cannot push chamber (Chamber of Mines) to come up with a living wage,” Chinhema said.

He said workers were expecting at least US$300 minimum paid 100% in US dollars. “This is way below to other regional scales where grade one workers are earning above US$500,” Chinhema said

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