THE Chamber of Mines and the Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe (Amwuz) have agreed a 5% increase in wages for 2014, ending protracted wage negotiations of more than six months.
The agreement is one of the few wage deals reached by National Employment Councils (NECs) as the majority have failed to agree on wage increments.
Negotiations had stalled, with Amwuz and the chamber declaring a deadlock twice, and were on the verge of going for arbitration.
According to the NEC constitution, negotiating parties have to declare a deadlock three times before seeking arbitration.
Both parties refused to comment on the matter after agreeing to keep the negotiations under wraps.
“We have completed negotiations and agreed on a 5% increase,” a source revealed.
“In the end, common sense prevailed and both parties really wanted a solution. The 5% increase is a reasonable settlement although neither party was entirely happy.”
He said the agreement, valid up to December 31 this year, will have a negative effect on employers as they are already struggling with a depressed economy characterised by low prices for minerals such as gold and chrome, as well as rising production costs.
The source added that workers were unhappy as they expected a great increase to cushion themselves against the increasing economic hardships.
In October last year, Amwuz demanded a minimum wage increase from the current US$227 to between US$400-US$500. This was dismissed by the chamber as unfeasible due to difficulties in the mining sector.
Negotiations ground to a halt when the chamber refused to increase the wages to the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) level of about US$573, arguing that the provision of free accommodation, education, transport and electricity, among other perks, meant the workers were already getting a PDL-linked minimum wage.
Most employers are refusing to increase salaries, citing low productivity as well as a debilitating liquidity crunch, among other factors.
Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate is set to worsen this year as over 2 000 workers were set to be laid off last month. This came as the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions revealed that about 9 500 workers were retrenched last year.
ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo, was quoted as saying the country’s main labour union was worried government has not been taking the issue of job losses seriously.
A survey by the ZCTU indicated that 1,3 million people were formally employed in 2012, but this dropped to 1,2 million last year.