MINE workers and the Chamber of Mines will meet today to begin discussions over a wage increment for the second quarter.The negotiations are being held amid a deepening economic crisis characterised by a crippling liquidity crunch, fuel and foreign currency shortages, low capacity utilisation and runaway inflation which stood at 676,39% for the month of March, eroding incomes and pensions.
The coronavirus pandemic has further weakened the country’s battered economy. Government imposed a national lockdown on March 30 to contain the spread of the virus which has since been extended indefinitely.
Associated Mineworkers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Tinago Ruzive said they will meet the Chamber of Mines to discuss the second-quarter wage increment in light of the continued skyrocketing of prices of basic commodities.
“We had begun negotiations for wages for the second quarter but were delayed by the lockdown. I spoke to the Chamber of Mines CEO (Isaac Kwesu) last week and have agreed that we will meet on Thursday last week at the National Employment Council for the mining sector but it was postponed to Friday (today)” Ruzive said.
“There will be just a few of us who will meet physically on Thursday with the rest of the negotiating teams joining the negotiations through teleconferencing due to precautions to curb the spread of Covid-19.”
He said the two parties are agreed on the need to increase wages, which are being continuously decimated by inflation, resulting in the skyrocketing of prices of basic commodities. Mine workers were awarded a 187% hike in the minimum wage in the first quarter from ZW$1 200 to ZW$3 450.
Negotiations over the minimum wage for the year were usually held in the last quarter of the previous year.However, this has not been the case for this year’s negotiations due to the deepening economic decline. Because of the weakening of the Zimbabwean dollar wage, negotiations which used to be held once a year are now being held on a quarterly basis.
Late last year the two parties agreed a 90% increase in the minimum wage, the third time an increment had been effected that year as a result of the inflationary environment.
The two parties agreed a 35% cost of living adjustment to cushion workers from the current inflationary environment in July last year.
This is on top of the 80% increment they had agreed upon in March as the initial minimum wage for 2019.