Miners to earn 52% of wages in forex

NEGOTIATIONS for the second-quarter minimum wage in the mining sector are still ongoing with indications that 52% of the agreed minimum wage will be paid in foreign currency, businessdigest has learnt.

MTHANDAZO NYONI

Mine workers and the Chamber of Mines began discussions over wage increments for the second quarter in mid-May this year.

The negotiations are being held amid a deepening economic crisis characterised by a crippling liquidity crunch, shortages of fuel and foreign currency, low capacity utilisation and runaway inflation.

The Covid-19 pandemic, which has resulted in hundreds of thousands of fatalities worldwide, has further weakened the country’s battered economy.
Information gathered by businessdigest revealed that the negotiations could have been concluded yesterday, with parties settling for about ZW$14 000 as a minimum wage.

“Parties are still negotiating but we are looking forward to concluding the discussions tomorrow (Thursday). Indications are that parties are agreeing to award a 100% wage increment which will see the lowest paid employee earning about ZW$14 000 per month, up from ZW$7 000,” the source said.

According to information at hand, 52% of the ZW$14 000 will be paid in United States dollars while 48% will be paid in local currency.

This means — based on the current official forex exchange rate of 76,8 — the workers will be getting about US$95 plus ZW$6 720 in local currency.

Taurai Kabote, general secretary for the National Employment Council (NEC) in the mining industry, said the negotiations were still underway.

“They have not finalised (the negotiations), so there’s no figure. Parties are still negotiating,” he said.

Efforts to get a comment from Associated Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Tinago Ruzive were fruitless as he continuously cut off the calls.

Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers’ Union general secretary Justice Chinhema, whose organisation has since applied for admission in the NEC for collective bargaining, said they will not accept any outcome that is not in line with what the employer is retaining after selling the minerals.

“The basis of coming up with a minimum wage should be US dollar-benchmarked as well as in line with other regional scales,” he said. “There was no consultation and any outcome is from those individuals who claim ownership of the NEC. It seems there is a dispute. They are playing a mind game with workers. Right now we are in July. They are used to saying workers will get back-pay. What does that help workers, even the companies themselves? Even if they are going to pay, it would have been eroded by the inflation already. Why take time to agree on a wage that can sustain a worker?”

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