Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

Democratisation of mine workers representation platform critical to build an inclusive NEC

22 Jul 2022 at 21:54hrs | Views
HARARE: Zimbabwe has a monopolistic mine workers' representation system which constitutes National Chamber of Mines and AMWUZ - Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe.

This uneven terrain in worker representation has thrown the entire extractives sector into a topsytavy situation with workers earning minimum wages way-down below the PDL - Poverty Datum Line.

To that effect, NMWUZ - National Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe has since called on the National Chamber of Mines and NEC - National Employment Council to seriously look into the issue as a matter of urgency and ensure that the mine workers' representation platform is democratized.

"As the President of National Mine Workers' Union of Zimbabwe we are calling on the National Chamber of Mines to consider it's workers and convince AMWUZ to co-opt into NEC all the other unions with membership through the introduction of a proportional representation system," said Kurebwa Javangwe Nomboka.

When NEC was constituted in 1990 there was only one union (AMWUZ), and one employer we now call Chamber of Mines.

Meanwhile, the mining sector in Zimbabwe is fast-expanding while new unions with membership are sprouting all over the country. This automatically means that there is now need for systems to change and migrate from monopolistic to proportional representation so that all mine workers are represented in NEC.

AMWUZ is using negotiation methodologies that help it maintain good ties with National Chamber of Mines so that it remains the only union with membership representing workers through a monopolistic system of dictatorship.

Nomboka argued that, "AMWUZ leadership is dictatorial in  it's approach and is serving the interests of employers alone. Members of AMWUZ are wandering why their concerns never get expected outcomes when they're part of a union that enjoys monopoly in NEC".

"It's disheartening to learn that even some of the members within AMWUZ are not happy with the way their labour grievances are being represented in NEC, arguing that AMWUZ lacks the knowledge of the reality of their struggles as mine workers in Zimbabwe," Nomboka added.

Industrial democracy is therefore proposed by unions as the key to decent work in Zimbabwe's extractives sector. The tendency has been that mine workers in Zimbabwe hardly make decisions, nor share responsibility and authority in their respective workplaces.

Apparently, workers' struggle in the mining sector in Zimbabwe is grounded in everyday acts of resistance and is directed towards power relationships exercised at work between the employer and employee. Sadly overt forms of resistance have been waning in because of various pieces of draconian legislation, and subterranean forms of resistance have been gaining traction.

The monopoly enjoyed by AMWUZ and National Chamber of Mines is a repressive machinery designed to keep mine workers poor and ensure that the ruling elite and mining employers continue to reap huge profits from this exploitative system of worker representation.

Mr Kurebwa Javangwe Nomboka has condemned the May 2022 salary adjustments which AMWUZ brokered on the behalf of mine workers as mere pittance and the "destruction of the poor"

"As Unionists, we feel that the May 2022 wage adjustments reached are nothing but a farce, and a selling-out salary negotiation outcome," he further remarked.

Prices of basic commodities continue to soar higher with every passing day. Until the Interbank and black market rates meet, the inflation rate will continue to skyrocket.

"As president of NMWUZ, I strongly condemn and accuse AMWUZ, as being insensitive to the plight of workers," argued Nomboka.

Nomboka added, "National Chamber of Mines must co-opt all mine workers' unions with membership onto the NEC negotiation table in a bid to ensure that the welfare of all mine workers is well catered for by the very same employers".

Mine workers' unions in Zimbabwe are not happy with AMWUZ being the sole representative of all mine workers.
On another platform, Unions are also worried that the $93000 brokered by AMWUZ for the entire year is mere mockery as it cannot even reach a quarter of the expected US$650 which NMWUZ is demanding employers pay thier workers.

"It's not fair that despite the fact that some of the country's major retailers are accessing foreign currency on the auction system, higher lending rates and indexing prices to open market exchange rates has eroded the buying power of many workers," said Nomboka.

While the official exchange rate is $403: US$1, the black market rates are ranging between $800 and $900 to the greenback.

Consequently, the pricing regime where prices are pegged using the black market rates is eroding the spending power of consumers.

"We're calling for the least paid worker to be paid a minimum wage of not less than US$650 but as long as there is unfair representation of workers in our negotiation fora (NEC), we have no hope for meaningful adjustments for all workers across the board".

Zimbabwe's mining industry accounts for 13 percent of the gross domestic product and is the largest foreign currency earner, yet it's workers are languishing in abject poverty in the midst of plenty.
"AMWUZ is now playing the role of a psuedo-representation, and for that we're advising National Chamber of Mines to build an inclusive NEC that represents all mine workers in Zimbabwe.

Creating an inclusive NEC will pave way for redress of mine workers' grievances in a very short period of time. Rearing the current monopolistic system of worker representation will one create mayhem and downturn productivity in the sector as workers will be left with no other option but to redirect their ernegies into industrial action as a last resort," advised Nomboka.

Source - Maxwell Teedzai
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.