AT least a dozen mining companies have applied to be exempted from paying the 3% increase in wages agreed between the Chamber of Mines and the Associated Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Amwuz) for 2015, business digest has learnt.
The two parties agreed on a 3% increment of the mining sector’s minimum wage for 2015 in February. This pushed the minimum wage in the mining sector by US$7,15 from US$238,41 to US$245,56.
However, this has proved to be too steep for some mining companies who are battling several challenges which include falling mineral prices.
“About 12 medium and small scale mining companies have applied for exemption” an informed source in the mining industry said. “The increase might not seem like much but for struggling companies it makes a huge difference.”
The source added that the applications for exemptions are yet to be heard by the national employment council for the mining sector. The applications have been prompted by the continued “falling through the floor” of minerals on the global market, sources said.
Some of the bigger mining companies have reduced salaries of its employees as they battle to stay afloat in an economic environment characterised by a disabling liquidity crunch and job losses through retrenchments and company closures, insiders revealed.
Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe this week executive director John Mufukare said the number of applications for exemptions points to serious challenges in the mining sector.
“When you get a situation where 12 mining companies applying for exemption where there are less than 100 mining companies, something is very wrong somewhere,” Mufukare said.
He said wage increases should be based on increase in productivity and inflation instead of requirements for companies to justify retrenching their employees.