Diamond workers demand US dollar salaries
THE Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers’ Union (Zdamwu) says workers in the mining sector should be paid in United States dollars since the sector is one of the top foreign currency earners in the country.
Zdamwu general-secretary Justice Chinhema said that mining workers should be given US$790 per month as salary, and not the ZWL$486 they are currently getting.
“If you go around Zimbabwe, the mining industry is one of the lowest paying industries despite us producing the foreign currency which government is crying for,” he said.
“This 80% increase is nothing to us. The mining industry must pay equivalent to what the employers are retaining from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe after selling the gold to Fidelity (Printers and Refiners).
Workers in the mining industry were recently awarded an 80% salary increment following collective bargaining agreement between the National Employment Council (NEC) for Mining Industry and unions.
But Chinhema said a number of mining companies had approached NEC asking for exemptions.
“So, we are saying the minimum wage of the mining industry must be commensurate to the mineral that we are mining. It must also reflect, if the employer is retaining 80% in US$, that should also be the salary and the minimum wage must be in line with the poverty datum line, which is US$790 (and) not ZWL$486,” he said.
“We are not in agreement with ZWL$486. The 80% increment that came through NEC is not a proper wage to an employee with a family of five.
“So the mining workers must be earning US$ component equivalent to what the employer retains after selling their minerals. That’s the benchmark we are talking about and it should be US$790, which is the poverty datum line from the central statistics agency.”
Chinhema said working conditions in the sector were poor.
“This is slavery and mining industry employers are enjoying free labour because salaries that they are paying are pathetic,” he said.
“Remember, mines are found in the remote areas of this country. Basic commodities in those areas are pegged at three or five times what they cost in cities like Bulawayo and Harare. That ZWL$486 is not even equivalent to the ZWL$486 being earned by a person living in Harare because they are in remote areas. The prices there (remote areas) are double.”