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Deadlock in mine workers’ salary talks

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WAGE negotiations between the mine workers’ union and mining firms have reached a deadlock after it emerged that the former is adamant to have salaries doubled by next year, NewsDay has learnt.

Acting Business Editor

Sources close to the developments said last week’s talks on reviewing miners’ wages in the next calendar year failed to be conclusive after both parties failed to reach a consensus.

The Associated Mine Workers’ Union, according to a document in the possession of this paper, is proposing a minimum wage for the period between January 2014 and December 2014 of $573 for gold and other minerals while diamond miners are demanding a minimum of $800.

The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe said more than doubling the wages would erode profit margins and affect operations. The sources said the matter had since referred to an arbitrator.

Currently the lowest paid mineworker is earning $227 monthly.

“The proposed increase is premised on the understanding that the increase is annualised as opposed to quarterly.

“It is common cause that the negotiations usually focus on the minimum wage, but in practice the minimum negotiated at the National Employment Council usually becomes in essence, the maximum wages. It is, therefore, necessary to have wages that are reasonable from the beginning,” said the union in its position paper.

During the negotiations, the union was also pushing for the separation of sub-sectors within the capital-intensive mining sector arguing that some sectors were currently outshining others.

“The union believes that this is because of, inter alia, there is increased demand for diamonds on the international market. The same can also be said for platinum which has generally been performing well.”

Mining has since overtaken agriculture as the mainstay of the economy with experts saying more investment in the sector could stimulate economic growth.

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