Gold miners demand better wages

Kudzai Kuwaza

MINE workers have demanded a higher minimum wage for the gold, diamond and platinum sectors as well as measures to cushion them against the rising cost of living, businessdigest has learnt.

The calls come at a time the mining sector is beset by a number of challenges including the shortage of foreign currency which has hampered production.

In a four-hour meeting on Friday last week, Associated Mineworkers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Tinago Ruzive said there should be a higher minimum wage for mine workers in the diamond, platinum and gold sectors, a demand rejected by the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines.

Amwuz president Tinago Ruzive told businessdigest this week that they had told the Chamber of Mines that mine workers in these sectors deserved a higher minimum wage as the minerals fetch more than other minerals on the market.

“We cannot have the same minimum wage for all minerals because gold, diamond and platinum rake in a lot of money which cannot be compared to minerals such as chrome and coal but the Chamber refused, saying that we are trying to separate workers,” Ruzive said.

He said during the meeting they had demanded that the employers’ body set a benchmark minimum wage package to cushion its members from the ever-rising cost of living.

The chamber, he said, argued that there is no need to set a benchmark minimum wage package as workers are being cushioned already.

The mine workers’ leader said they had argued that not all mines have adjusted salaries to cater for the increasingly difficult economic environment.

Ruzive said they had reiterated that mine workers be paid in foreign currency, but employers told them it was not possible unless they retain at least 80% of their foreign currency receipts from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

He said after intense discussions, the employers’ body had promised to go and consult before they hold another meeting after a week.

Ruzive said although they are confident that the two parties will reach an agreement, he could not rule out a strike if they failed to find common ground.

“If we keep on talking, I believe we will come to an agreement,” he said.

“Going on strike will be the very last resort because the workers are geared for anything.”

According to the State of the Mining Industry 2018 report, wages constituted up to 23% of total costs, down from 31% in 2017.