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Miners push for salary hike

by Noble Ncube
13 Dec 2015 at 04:08hrs | Views
ASSOCIATION of Mine Workers' Union of Zimbabwe (Amwuz) is set to meet mining industry employers before the end of the year to negotiate for a 10 percent salary increase and better working conditions.

Amwuz president Mr Tinago Ruzive said the union's national executive made up of representatives from all major mining houses met last month where it was agreed to push employers for a 10 percent salary increase to enable workers to get wages in line with the Poverty Datum Line (PDL).

PDL represents the cost of a given standard of living that must be attained if a person is deemed not to be poor. The food poverty datum line represents the minimum consumption necessary to ensure that each household member can consume a minimum food basket representing 2 100 calories. The International Labour Organisation recommends that the PDL should be used as a benchmark or reference point in determining minimum wages.

According to Zimstat the PDL for August went down from the July rate of US$495,12 to US$489,41 in August, translating to a 1,15 percent drop.

According to latest data from Zimstat, an average family of five required at least US$489 in August to purchase food and non-food items. Zimstat also indicated that an average person lived on US$1,01 per day in August.

"We want a salary increment and 10 percent is our opening figure. As a union, whatever the outcome of the negotiations, we will not go below five percent.

"We are very much interested in having salaries which are parallel to the country's PDL. We want to achieve that in a smart and progressive way. We, however, don't expect to get that in one sitting," Mr Ruzive said.

He said Amwuz had scheduled to meet Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe and National Employment Council in a fortnight.

"Currently workers get slave wages which are way below the national PDL. All we need to do is to top up on the minimum which we currently get. This is the message we are sending to the chamber. They must at least show us that we are going to meet the PDL even if it is not at once, we know these things take time," Mr Ruzive said.

He also said a survey conducted by Amwuz revealed that most mining companies were not complying with occupational safety and health regulations through failure to provide their workforce with adequate protective and safety gear leaving them at risk of getting hurt or compromising their health.

"We want employers to consider the health of the employees. There has to be a provision for every employer to provide protective clothing for employees. During our national tour we discovered that some employees who worked underground had no protective clothing.

"There are workers going under mines with exposed feet. That is not acceptable because it is a huge risk to the employee's lives. We want companies to abide to safety regulations," Mr Ruzive said.

The general secretary of National Employment Council for Mining Industry, Mr Edward Mubvumba acknowledged that Amwuz had arranged a meeting with his organisation and the Chamber of Mines.

"The miners' workers union indicated to meet us together with the Chamber of Mines to table their grievances. We are in the middle of the two parties and we do not have a say in the outcome. We just facilitate the meeting," he said.

On another note, Mr Ruzive said mining houses' efforts of increasing production was being hampered by inadequate or usage of obsolete machinery.

"The majority of the equipment is dilapidated. They (employers) need to engage prospective sponsors or partners and get new machinery. We need fresh equipment so that there is increase in mine output in the country," said Ruziwe.

The Government has projected an increased mineral output for next year. Gold output was seen at 24 tonnes from 18,7 tonnes this year. Chrome output is expected at 416 000 tonnes in 2016 from 211 000 tonnes this year while platinum is seen at 13 290 tonnes from 12 tonnes. Diamond output will rise to six million carats next year from 3 360 carats this year.

However, Mr Ruzive said these targets cannot be achieved using the current mining machinery at most mines stating that the mining sector required huge capital outlay to reach production levels that would limit the shock of international price fluctuations.

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

Source - sundaynews