HARARE: Zimbabwe has a monopolistic representation system for miners which constitutes the National Chamber of Mines and the AMWUZ – Associated Miners Union of Zimbabwe.
This uneven ground in worker representation has thrown the entire extractive sector into an upside down situation with workers earning minimum wages well below the PDL – poverty benchmark.
To this effect, the NMWUZ – National Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe has since called on the National Chamber of Mines and the NEC – National Employment Council to give serious consideration to the issue as a matter of urgency and ensure that the platform form of representation of minors is democratized.
“As President of the National Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe, we call on the National Chamber of Mines to consider its workers and convince AMWUZ to co-opt into the NEC all other member unions through the introduction of a proportional representation system,” says Kurebwa Javangwe Nomboka.
When the NEC was formed in 1990, there was only one union (AMWUZ) and one employer which we now call the Chamber of Mines.
Meanwhile, the mining sector in Zimbabwe is growing rapidly as new unions with membership spring up across the country. This automatically means that it is now necessary to change systems and move from monopoly representation to proportional representation so that all miners are represented in the NEC.
AMWUZ uses negotiation methodologies that help it maintain good links with the National Chamber of Mines so that it remains the only union whose members represent workers through a monopolistic system of dictatorship.
Nomboka argued that “the AMWUZ leadership is dictatorial in its approach and serves only the interests of employers. AMWUZ members wonder why their concerns never get the desired results when they are part of ‘a union which enjoys the monopoly of the NEC’.
“It is disheartening to hear that even some of the AMWUZ members are unhappy with the way their union demands are represented at the NEC, arguing that the AMWUZ is unaware of the reality of their struggles as than minors in Zimbabwe,” added Nomboka.
Industrial democracy is therefore proposed by trade unions as the key to decent work in Zimbabwe’s extractive sector. The trend has been that miners in Zimbabwe hardly make decisions, nor share responsibility and authority in their respective workplaces.
Apparently, the struggle of workers in the mining sector in Zimbabwe is based on daily acts of resistance and is directed against the power relations exercised at work between employer and employee. Unfortunately, overt forms of resistance have diminished due to various draconian pieces of legislation, and underground forms of resistance have gained ground.
The monopoly enjoyed by AMWUZ and the National Chamber of Mines is a repressive mechanism designed to keep mine workers poor and ensure that the ruling elite and mining employers continue to reap huge profits from this mining system. exploitation of worker representation.
Mr. Kurebwa Javangwe Nomboka condemned the May 2022 wage adjustments that AMWUZ negotiated on behalf of the miners as mere misery and the “destruction of the poor”
“As trade unionists, we believe that the salary adjustments concluded in May 2022 are nothing but a farce and a sell-out salary negotiation result”, he further pointed out.
Commodity prices continue to soar with each passing day. Until the interbank and black market rates meet, the inflation rate will continue to soar.
“As chairman of NMWUZ, I strongly condemn and accuse AMWUZ of being insensitive to the plight of workers,” said Nomboka.
Nomboka added, “The National Chamber of Mines must co-opt all miners’ unions to the NEC bargaining table with the aim of ensuring that the welfare of all miners is well taken care of by the same employers.”
Miners’ unions in Zimbabwe are not happy that AMWUZ is the sole representative of all miners.
On another platform, the unions are also concerned that the $93,000 negotiated by the AMWUZ for the whole year is a mere mockery as it cannot even reach a quarter of the expected US$650 that the NMWUZ is asking the employers to pay their workers.
“It’s not fair that despite some of the country’s major retailers accessing foreign currencies on the auction system, higher lending rates and price pegs to open market exchange rates have eroded the purchasing power of many workers,” said Nomboka.
While the official exchange rate is $403 for US$1, black market rates range between $800 and $900 for a greenback.
Therefore, the pricing regime where prices are pegged to black market rates erodes consumers’ purchasing power.
“We demand that the lowest paid worker be paid a minimum wage of at least $650, but as long as there is unfair representation of workers in our bargaining forums (NECs), we have no hope of adjustments. meaningful for all workers at all levels”.
Zimbabwe’s mining industry accounts for 13% of gross domestic product and is the biggest earner of foreign exchange, but its workers languish in abject poverty amid plenty.
“AMWUZ is now playing the role of a pseudo-representation, and for this we are advising the National Chamber of Mines to build an inclusive NEC that represents all mine workers in Zimbabwe.
The creation of an inclusive NEC will pave the way for the redress of mine workers’ grievances in a very short period of time. Elevating the current monopolistic system of worker representation will create chaos and lower productivity in the sector, as workers will have no choice but to redirect their energies into industrial action as a last resort,” said advised Nomboka.
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