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Zimbabwe: Union demands Covid-19 risk allowances for miners urgently

‘Mine Workers Demand U.S.$200 Covid-19 Monthly Risk Allowances’ 15 January 2021

Mine workers are demanding a minimum US$200 per month as Covid-19 risk allowances arguing the mining sector is one of the key economic cogs not spared from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. The Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers (ZDAMWU) general-secretary Justice Chinhema writing to National Employment Council for the Mining Industry Tuesday demanded that employees in the sector must be given Covid-19 risk allowances urgently. "Mine industry workers have become foot soldiers of our country's economy hence the government has declared the sector an essential service sector," Chinhema said. He said the disbursement of the monthly Covid-19 allowance must be treated as a matter of urgency.

"With the rise in reported cases of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe, reports from our members across the country and statistics confirming that most mines now have positive cases, it is high time as a sector we introduce Covid-19 allowance and massive tests across all mines to motivate workers to work under this difficult and hazardous environment and contain the ever increasing spread of Covid-19," said Chinhema. He said if the government's US$12 billion mining economy was to be achieved, there was need to motivate workers in the sector. "With the US$12 billion tag for the industry, workers need to be motivated than to work under protest. With the imminent 2021 first quarter wage negotiations, the mining industry having been accorded essential service status, it's time we include the Covid-19 allowance over and above the minimum wage like what all other essential service providers are doing, the government included.

…"This is not about money but a risk allowance associated with the risk that is involved during a pandemic. "Besides the allowance, workers are expecting a wage increase in the range of US$400 to US$600 equivalent or 100% US$. The prices of basic goods and services charged around the mining districts in Zimbabwe are mostly pegged in US$ especially districts that have no big supermarkets," he said. Chinhema added ZDAMWU was compiling statistics indicating the needs of an ordinary mine worker and his family including basic food items and social services. "Any wage negotiations that do not use actuals as required for a worker to survive will not be accepted because it's a slave wage. Mine workers have always said they deserve a wage that is in line with the actual value of minerals mined and in line to other regional scales."