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Mineworkers down tools

MINEWORKERS have gone on strike to press for better wages and working conditions, but employers say they cannot meet workers’ demands because business is down.

A leader of the Associated Mineworkers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Amwuz), which says it has a membership of 25 000, yesterday told the Zimbabwe Independent that the strike started on Wednesday after the Chamber of Mines turned down their proposals.

“The chamber failed to fulfil its obligation of holding negotiations for the first quarter of this year’s salaries. They failed to do so again last year,” Amwuz president Tinango Ruzive said, adding that an official 14-day strike notice had expired on Wednesday.

Chamber of Mines chief executive Chris Hokonya, however, accused the workers’ union of negotiating in bad faith. He said Amwuz had agreed to put the strike on hold ahead of a meeting between employers and the union scheduled for Monday next week.

Hokonya said mines were struggling and could not afford the US$496 minimum monthly wage demanded by workers for the first quarter of this year.

Like most sectors of the economy, power supplies and lack of investors are slowing down recovery.

“We have to be realistic with them (mine workers). We can only pay salaries that are sustainable instead of promising what we cannot fulfil,” said Hokonya.

Hokonya said most mines were operating at below 30% capacity due to inconsistent power supplies.
Ruzive accused the chamber of disregarding a labour tribunal ruling that awarded wage increments to workers.
“Last year we won an arbitrary award for the third quarter where we were awarded a minimum of US$140 which the chamber did not accept. It advised the mines to pay US$120 which was a violation of the ruling made in our favour,” Ruzive said.

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