THE second quarter wage impasse between the Chamber of Mines and the Associated Mineworkers Union of Zimbabwe (AMWUZ) is now set for arbitration after the two parties failed to reach an agreement during the conciliation process.
The mineworkerâ€™s union boss Tinago Ruzive told Businessdigest on Wednesday that during the conciliation process the chamber had increased the minimum wage they were offering from US$80 to US$100, an offer he said was not accepted.
Ruzive said that they will only accept a minimum wage of between US$200 and US$300. This means the Ministry of Labour will now refer the deadlock to an arbitrator.
Chamber of Mines senior executive and manpower advisor Doug Verden confirmed that they had failed to reach an agreement with the workers union and were now awaiting the appointment of an arbitrator to resolve the dispute.
Ruzive said the two parties had also failed to agree on the timeframe in which salaries will be reviewed.
The union, Ruzive said, wanted a quarterly review of the minimum wage while the chamber was lobbying for a wage they want to be in force until the end of the year. Mining accounts for 4% of the countryâ€™s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Ruzive said that the protracted wage negotiations have frustrated their membership resulting in some of them going on strike.
â€œThe money they are earning hardly enables them to have decent meals. Mine workers have embarked on a collective job action at Vubachikwe Mine in Gwanda and River Ranch Mine in Beitbridge,â€ he said.
Ruzive said that although the union did not condone strikes, they sympathised with the workers’ plight.
â€œIt is not our intention that workers to go on collective job action, but what do we do if workers are failing to make ends meet. The downing of tools at these two mines could trigger more strikes countrywide,â€ Ruzive said.
â€œThe mineworkers are up in arms and you never know these strikes could spread like a grassfire,â€ he warned.
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe director John Mufukare revealed that none of the 46 national employment councils had reached an agreement on the minimum wage to be paid in the second half of the year.
â€œThere has been no collective bargaining agreement for July and beyond. Workers are receiving wages based on June figuresâ€ he said.
Mufukare however warned against using the arbitration route to resolve disputes. This, he said, usually resulted in employees being awarded wages employers could not afford to pay resulting in applications for exemptions.
He said the continued deadlocks in wages necessitated the resurrection of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum which is a negotiating body comprising the government, labour and business.
Mufukare said the employer body will hold a bipartite meeting with labour organisations before the end of the month to come up with a shared vision to present to government to facilitate the setting up of an effective Tripartite Negotiating Forum.