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Showdown looms as wage talks near

A showdown is looming between the Chamber of Mines and the Associated Mineworkers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Amwuz) as the two head for another round of wage negotiations amid indications the union is pushing for salaries of US$400-US$500, figures mines deem too high.

Kudzai Kuwaza

A source in the body representing mines told businessdigest this week that such demands were not feasible, a position that could set a potential showdown when the two parties sit down for wage negotiations for the 2014 minimum wage structures next month.

“The suggested minimum increase by the union is not feasible,” a source said. “Some of the mines, particularly gold mines are on a care and maintenance basis. Most of the gold mines are in dire straits, so paying such a minimum wage is not feasible.”

He added difficulties in the mining sector were compounded by the poor performance of other minerals such as chrome and metal. The official, however, declined to disclose figures the employer body could afford to give workers at the beginning of next year.

Amwuz president Tinago Ruzive said the union was currently consulting its members on their position but there have been suggestions that the minimum wage should not be less than US$400 to US$500.

“The position is that the union has circulated a paper to all our members on what we should demand for 2014 from the Chamber,” Ruzive said.

“Workers are up in arms as they want the minimum wage upped from the current minimum of US$227 to between US$400 to US$500. We don’t know what the chamber’s response will be, but we want to meet them next month.”

He added that the current minimum could not sustain the upkeep of its members and there was a need to adequately remunerate mineworkers.
Ruzive said that mineworkers in the diamond mines in Chiadzwa want their minimum wage increased to US$1 000, arguing these particular mines were making huge profits at the expense of the workers.

Meanwhile, Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) director John Mufukare said although negotiations within most National Employment Councils have been progressing well, the negotiations within the civil service could prove a stumbling block.

Civil servants representatives met in Harare recently and came up with a resolution to demand a minimum salary of US$540 a month and 30% of basic salary as rural allowance.

“Wage negotiations have gone quite well so far but negotiations within the civil service will determine which way the private sector will go,” Mufukare said. “We hope that the negotiations
will not scuttle the progress we have made.”

Mufukare said they had agreed with labour to pay a productivity based wage increase and had agreed an increment of approximately 5% across the national employment councils for 2013.

He welcomed the appointment of former Emcoz president Mike Bimha to the Industry and Commerce portfolio, saying they had already engaged him twice since his appointment.

“It is a very welcome development as we can speak the same language and we are on the same wavelength,” Mufukare said.

He said their negotiations with Bimha had centered on how to increase the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth from the current 4% per annum to 10% per annum if they were to achieve the goal of having a US$100 billion economy by 2040.

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