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Poor salaries, working conditions rile mine workers

ZIMBABWE Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) has expressed concern over low wages and hardships facing mine workers as the country’s macroeconomic situation continues to deteriorate.

To date, the Zimdollar has depreciated by over 90% to US$1:ZWL13 466,41 resulting in the cost of living rising significantly.

Thus, at current monthly wages, most workers are struggling to put food on their tables.

In a newsletter published in January, ZDAMWU blamed the low wages on some mining investors who it accused of being unscrupulous and of corrupt tendencies.

According to the workers, investors allegedly use dirty money to manipulate the system they operate in to create a hazardous environment for mine workers.

“Currently, the employer has been hardened to have any meaningful negotiations for a better wage structure by the weak labour laws,” ZDAMWU secretary-general Justice Chinhema told NewsDay Business in an interview.

“The only language that capitalists understand is withdrawal of labour which has now been criminalised. The bargaining power is no longer there, and the only way forward is to continue bringing workers together so as to have a strong voice in demanding a living wage. National negotiations have now been rendered useless because they produce nothing.”

He said the few available labour laws were not favourable to the safety of workers as they were weak and gave employers power to manipulate the entire system, rendering national negotiation useless.

Despite this, he vowed that the union will continue to fight for better wages and safer working conditions.

“Works council (mine level) negotiations using production levels is the viable bargaining tool now because you will be pointing out to your employer how the mine would have performed,” Chinhema said.

The paper sought a comment on the matter from the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe chief executive officer, Isaac Kwesu, who declined to comment and referred it to the mining National Employment Council (Nec).

He said the issue should be addressed through the union.

Nec secretary-general Sylvester Kabote said: “Nec, we are a court of law, and any grievance and unfair labour practice are dealt within the confines of the law. I’m not aware of any case; will have to check with my designated agents. Unfortunately, it’s after working hours now.”

NewsDay

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