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Mineworkers Threaten Strike

MINEWORKERS have threatened to go on strike next month in protest against poor remuneration and working conditions.

The threat followed the failure by the Associated Mineworkers Union of Zimbabwe (AMUZ) and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines to agree on wages.

The dispute between the two parties has deteriorated with the mineworkers’ body taking the chamber to the High Court.

“We will start going to all the mines this month to address mineworkers and get them to vote to go on strike,” AMUZ president Tinago Ruzive told bussinessdigest this week.

He said a decision on whether or not to embark on strike would be made by month-end.

Mineworkers were awarded a minimum wage of US$140 for the third quarter of last year by arbitrator and lawyer Arthur Manase. The arbitration was prompted by disagreements between the two parties.

The chamber had said they were only prepared to pay a minimum wage of US$80, a reduction from the previous minimum wage of US$100, while the mineworkers were demanding a minimum wage of US$200.

The mineworkers wanted US$174 as salary plus US$26 to cater for uniforms, school fees, medication and other items.

Manase however awarded the workers US$120 plus US$20 to cover items such as safety clothes, fees and medication Issues came to a head when the Chamber agreed to pay only US$120, arguing the additional US$20 awarded was already catered for by the provisions the mines give the workers.

 

This prompted the mineworkers’ body to take the chamber to court.

The deadlock is aggravated by the failure of the two parties to meet over wage adjustments for the last quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of this year.

“The chamber has refused to pay us the US$20 we have been awarded and we have taken them to the High Court,” Ruzive said.

He said this had bogged down negotiations for the first quarter of this year in which they expect the minimum wage to be set at US$496.

“We are expecting a minimum wage of US$496 which is the Poverty Datum Line. The figure is not a thumb suck,” he said.

Chamber of Mines chief executive Chris Hokonya declined to comment on the issue when contacted.

Meanwhile, employers have resolved to hold wage negotiations once this year — effectively scrapping quarterly wage negotiations.

“We as employers have unanimously agreed that we will only negotiate once this year and that’s it,” Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe director John Mufukare said. “We are doing this to in order to lift the country from the bottom of the productivity scale within the Sadc region.”

He said they were “completely devastated” by plans by mineworkers to go on strike at a time the country should be focused on economic recovery.”

Kudzai Kuwaza

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