MINE workers’ unions have rejected the $7 000 minimum wage proposed by their employers, describing the offer as a “slave wage” that is not commensurate with inflation.

BY NHAU MANGIRAZI

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Worker’s Union (ZDAMWU) on Thursday said they were disappointed by the “peanut-wage agreement” reached by the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines and the Associated Mines Workers Union of Zimbabwe (AMWUZ) last week.

The agreement pegs the mine workers’ minimum wage at $7 000 (US$100) at a time the poverty datum line is pegged at US$567 for a family of six to survive per month.

ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said the agreement was a “non-starter” and called on mine workers to reject the “useless Zimbabwe dollar” that he described as “paper knocked down by ever-rising inflation”.

ZDAMWU secretary-general Justice Chinhema said: “The union is dismayed that employers are literally ‘burning’ a few United States dollars on the black market and then transfer the useless RTGS$ [Real Time Gross Settlement dollar] into their employees’ bank accounts or EcoCash, a clear display of cruelty and lack of moral feelings towards the plight of the long-suffering mining workers and their families.

“It is disheartening that mine workers in Zimbabwe are earning far less than their counterparts in the region with mine workers in South Africa and Botswana earning a minimum wage averaging US$850 per month.”

Chinhema added: “This is happening against an undertaking early this year by parties to the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) which agreed that within six months from February 2020 government should consider adopting the rand if the local currency continued to depreciate to unacceptable levels such as seen in the past few weeks after the introduction of higher denomination bank notes.

“Given that inflation has reached shocking heights now past the 900% mark and the ever-falling Zimbabwe dollar currently pegged at 1:70 against the US dollar on the black market, the current salary increment is a big joke.”

Chinhema said the economic crisis threatened social and political stability of the nation.

“Failure to address the crisis that has put the lives of the majority of workers in jeopardy and can also threaten both the social and political stability of the nation, we are urging the government to convene an urgent TNF meeting to revisit the modalities of adopting a more stable currency as earlier agreed as workers and the generality of the Zimbabwean population can no longer afford to continue under this crisis,” he said.

ZDAMWU said the National Employment Council should consider that the employer was being paid in foreign currency.

AMWUZ representative Dickson Ruzive said he was not at liberty to discuss the agreement as the process was still ongoing.

“I am sorry I cannot make any comments for now as negotiations are ongoing and we haven’t made the final decision,” he said.

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