Miners set to begin 2017 wage bargains

Mine workers are expected to push for a 10% pay raise when they face the Chamber of Mines to negotiate for the 2017 minimum wage under their umbrella body, the Associated Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Amwuz), businessdigest has learnt.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

The negotiations come at a time Zimbabwe’s economy is worsening, characterised by a debilitating liquidity crunch as evidenced by the acute cash shortage, low capacity utilisation of less than 35%, company closures and massive job losses.

Amwuz president Tinago Ruzive told businessdigest on Tuesday that the body will soon engage the Chamber of Mines over an increase in the minimum wage for next year.

“We will be discussing with the Chamber the minimum wage for next year,” Ruzive said.

“We will go into the discussions fully aware of the current economic difficulties affecting our sector.”

Ruzive, however, remained tight lipped over the quantum of the increment they will be seeking from the employer body saying “it will be tantamount to negotiating in the press”.

A source, however, told businessdigest that the mine workers’ union will be looking for an increment “hovering around 10%”. The two parties agreed a 1,5% increment to the minimum wage for the sector for 2016, effectively amounting to US$249, 24 earlier this year after what Ruzive described as “an agreement after a lot of dickering and haggling”.

Despite the slight increment for 2016, a number of mining companies have applied for exemption from paying the increment, citing viability challenges.

An employer in the mining sector said at the time most mine houses will not be able to afford to effect the increase due to viability problems.

“A 1,5% increase may not seem to be much but if you multiply that by 500 workers it makes a huge difference to the company’s bottom line,” the employer said.

Mining sector output recorded a negative growth of around -3,4% and -2,5% in 2014 and 2015 respectively as most minerals recorded declines in output, led by chrome, which reported the largest decline of 48% in output, followed by coal and diamonds at -31% and -30% respectively.

A 30% increase in production was only recorded on gold, followed by a modest 1% growth in platinum while copper production remained flat in the period under review.