‘Declare Kamandama Disaster Day a public holiday’

The workers union also demanded the enactment of the law that criminalises carelessness and negligence on the part of employers.

THE Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Mineral Workers Union (ZDAMWU) has appealed to government to declare June 6 a public holiday in honour of 427 mine workers who perished in the Kamandama Mine disaster in 1972.

The workers union also demanded the enactment of the law that criminalises carelessness and negligence on the part of employers.

The call was made by ZDAMWU secretary-general Justice Chinhema recently as the union celebrated 52 years since the disaster struck at Wankie Number 2 Colliery.

“As ZDAMWU, we wish to see the government making this day a public holiday in remembering the workers and many other disasters that have happened involving workers.

“This day should also be a day of caring for the families of all those who have lost lives while working and those who have permanent injuries from work,” he said.

Chinhema said the union would continue to advocate a policy that creates a wellness fund to deal with similar disasters that happened in the past.

“We also want a law that clearly criminalises those who deliberately fail to follow minimum mining standards leading to fatalities,” he said.

Chinhema also announced that the union had been admitted to the National Employment Council for the Mining Industry, a development which he described as a milestone for the mine workers considering the union's protracted struggle for the rights of employees.

“This is a victory for mine workers. We shall take all the aspirations of mine workers to the NEC platform so as to have serious reforms. We shall be pushing for a living wage which is what all mine workers around the country need as soon as possible,” Chinhema said.

He said mine workers were lobbying for a minimum salary of US$600.

“We shall be pushing for the creation of subsectors within the industry so as to make sure workers mining high value and critical minerals are paid according to the value of the minerals mined.

“We shall be pushing for an amendment of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which is outdated to be in conformity with the Labour Act in many areas like ending casualisation of labour, labour broking, job evaluations and job grading,” he said. “We shall be pushing through our engagement with the Chamber of Mines for value addition and beneficiation of minerals for job security, creation and economic development.

“We also shall be advocating better housing models for mine workers supported by employers so as to develop mining communities, not the colonial set up of compounding workers,” he said.

Chinhema said they would also lobby for consideration of housing and transport allowances because most new mines do not have accommodation.

“Transportation of workers is equally a challenge and all these need to be addressed by NEC through the CBA. The two seats allocated to ZDAMWU are a starting point and we shall make good use of them. 

“For the benefit of mine workers, we shall be engaging other unions that failed to reach the threshold to come and work with us for the good of workers,” Chinhema said.

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