Zimbabwe Diamond Miners Want Pay Raised to $800 a MonthDecember 02, 13
The country's main mining labor union and mining companies have reached a stalemate in pay talks for 2014, according to Bloomberg News.
The dispute between the Chamber of Mines, which represents companies, and the Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe, has now been referred to the government’s National Employment Council, according to sources who cannot be identified because the dispute hasn’t been made public. The council will meet on January 15 and will probably refer the matter to an arbitrator.
The union wants employers to boost pay to a minimum of $800 a month for diamond-mine workers, $700 for platinum mines and $573 for gold and other mineworkers, while the Chamber is demanding an inflation-linked adjustment, according to position papers presented at a meeting last month and obtained by Bloomberg.
Zimbabwe has the world’s second-biggest platinum and chrome deposits after South Africa, as well as reserves of diamonds, gold, coal, nickel and iron ore.
In its position paper, the Chamber said that mining companies can’t afford to boost wages by more than inflation, which was 0.6 percent in October, because of excessive taxes and falling commodity prices.
“Fueled by a decline in commodity prices, the overall income generated by the mining sector has declined across most minerals,” it said. “Risks remain tilted to the downside and emanating from easing international prices of minerals while long-term financing and energy constraints continue to bind.
The price of gold has fallen 25 percent this year, platinum has declined 12 percent and palladium, the biggest byproduct of platinum mining, has slipped 5 percent.
The value of mineral production, excluding diamonds, fell to $1.40 billion in the first nine months of this year compared with $1.45 billion in the same period last year. Full-year production is forecast to fall 4 percent to $1.81 billion, the group said.
"The union believes that it’s fair and just for each sub-sector to remunerate its employees at rates that are proportional to its performance," the union said in its submission. Pay was raised by 15 percent for gold workers and 7 percent for other miners this year.
“Continued high wage demands made by the trade union threaten the survival of the industry,” the Chamber said.