The arbitration was prompted by a wage deadlock between mine workers and the employer body, the Chamber of Mines.
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 mine workers had wanted US$174 plus US$26 to cater for uniforms, school fees, medication and other clothing items.
Manase however awarded the workers US$120 plus US$20 to cover items such as safety clothes, fees and medication for the third quarter covering the period between July and September 2009.
Manase ruled in favour of the mineworkers that wage negotiations were to be held quarterly. The chamber had wanted the minimum wage to be set for the remainder of the year.
President of the Associated Mine workers Union of Zimbabwe Tinago Ruzive, however, said that the chamber had agreed to pay only US$120 arguing that they provided workers with uniforms and therefore would not pay the additional US$20.
The mineworkers’ boss said that although they had not been awarded the wages they had anticipated, it was an improvement from what they had been initially offered.
“This is not what we really wanted but half a loaf is better than nothing,” Ruzive said.
The stage is now set for another bruising wage negotiation for the fourth quarter that covers the period between October and the end of the year.
Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe director John Mufukare said there was a need for employers and workers to agree on wages without resorting to arbitrations.
“Arbitrations are not the way to go,” Mufukare said “At our congress last week, we resolved to hold a summit with organised labour as quickly as possible to agree on a remuneration policy that will make the country competitive again.”
He said there were instances when an arbitrator awarded a minimum wage for a particular national employment council and all employers in that sector applied for exemption, defeating the intended purpose of arbitration.
Mufukare said that they wanted to propose a minimum wage for each of the 46 national employment councils. The wages would be increased on the basis of productivity within each sector.
“We believe that decent work is the match that will light up the flame to fire up the economy and we sincerely believe that we cannot get the economy going without taking labour with us,” he said.