FAR-REACHING indu-strial action is looming in the mining sector with revelations this week that the Associated Mine Workers of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines are at loggerheads ov
er new wage reviews for the sector.
The Associated Mine Workers of Zimbabwe is said to be demanding a minimum wage of $900 000, a figure that has been described as exorbitant by the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines which represents all mines in Zimbabwe.
The chamber is offering a minimum wage of $200 000. There are now fears that there could be countrywide job action in the mining sector, which has been on the recovery path recently.
The Ministry of Mines as the responsible entity was this week also roped into the salary struggle between the two representative bodies.
The Associated Mine Workers of Zimbabwe this week dragged the Chamber of Mines to the Ministry of Mines seeking urgent arbitration in the dispute.
At a meeting held at the ministry on Monday it was decided that the two parties revert to the National Employment Council (NEC) for the mining industry for further consultation.
The NEC, the Chamber of Mines and the labour organisation were this week expected to meet to chart the way forward.
Chamber of Mines senior executive Douglas Verden confirmed that there was still a stalemate on the negotiations.
“The association had proposed a figure of $900 000 and we felt it was quite excessive especially given that they are not justifying how they reached that amount,” said Verden. “We are proposing a minimum wage of $200 000. We are now back at the NEC after the matter was referred back to them by the Ministry of Mines. We are hopeful that an agreement will be reached soon.”
Mine workers countrywide are likely to go on strike in support of the organisation.
The Chamber of Mines had walked out of the initial meeting at the beginning of the month. Most established mines in Zimbabwe have since awarded their workers a preliminary increase ranging between 100% and 135%.
The president of the Associated Mine Workers of Zimbabwe Tinago Ruzive denied reports the union was demanding a minimum wage of $900 000.
“It was an opening figure and we were prepared to negotiation. I cannot say whether we are going have a strike or not. It depends with the attitude of the Chamber of Mines,” said Ruzive.
He said the Monday meeting was meant to reconcile the two parties.
“What we are rejecting are slave wages. No, we will not have that. We want wages that are reasonable,” said Ruzive.
Mine workers are some of the lowest paid in Zimbabwe. The strike, if it happens, is likely to affect operations of some listed companies such as Bindura and Falgold.