Mine workers fret over wage erosion

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If one is able to cope with hard work or pressure and withstand it, they stand out

BY SILAS NKALA
MINE workers have raised concern over their recent salary increments which have since been eroded by spiralling inflation and cost of living.

The Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Mine Workers Union (Zidamwu) last Tuesday wrote to the president of the Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe (Amwuz) raising concern over eroded salaries.

Amwuz is one of the mine wage bargainers also involving the National Employment Council (NEC) of the mining industry and the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe.

In May this year, Amwuz, NEC and Chamber of Mines agreed on a 108,5% salary increase for the mine workers, which Zidamwu general-secretary Justice Chinhema described as a slap in the face for mine workers.

The 108,5% increment saw the lowest paid employee in the sector earning $93 074 per month from $44 640 a month, while the highest would get $215 872 from $103 536. Using the current official exchange rate, the minimum wage in the mining sector would be $360 in US dollar terms.

“I write again to you at a critical time for our members in the industry. Today, the obtaining economic situation in the country characterised by high inflation, shortage of some basic commodities, skyrocketing parallel market exchange rates, including the interbank exchange rates, rising prices of basic commodities and services, among others, has left mine industry workers and the general people of Zimbabwe enduring the unbearable crisis and living in poverty while working.

“It is sad to note that the mining industry as the backbone of the country’s economy, as clearly positioned by the government of Zimbabwe through National Development Strategy (NDS) 1 and 2 and 2023’s US$12 billion target, mine workers’ living standards are a far cry as expected of them. Mining districts in Zimbabwe have no big supermarkets that sell basic goods in local currency for workers to purchase using the current earnings,” Chinhema wrote.

He said this was a crisis on its own because the current minimum wage structure set in the second quarter of 2022 was below the poverty datum line.

“In light of the above, we are kindly requesting you to call for an urgent NEC meeting to consider a cost of living adjustment across the board pegged in foreign currency. It’s high time that we make the employer accountable for the living standards of their workers. Workers are aware of profits margins that are made and production levels together with value of minerals being mined in Zimbabwe,” Chinhema added.

Mine workers are proposing the introduction of housing and transport allowances to those who are not provided with accommodation at mining compounds.

Amwuz is yet to respond to the letter.

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