Govt bigwigs running private mines ruin union efforts to fight violations

Kurebwa Jabangwe says worker’s aspirations under threat amid conflict of interest

By Tapiwa Svondo

National Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe president Kurebwa Jabangwe says the representative group’s efforts to defend workers against labour-based violations within the sector were being hampered by that some top government officials have now become owners of private mines in the country.

Speaking to Zimstar News recently, Javangwe said ownership of some of the country’s mines has shifted into the hands of government bigwigs, leading to half-hearted efforts by a compromised bureaucracy to remedy the situation.

Javangwe expressed his worries that some of the influential figures expected to champion policy that would ease problems faced by workers in the lucrative sector have vested interests in the business.

“The stakeholders who are supposed to intervene in some of the violations seem to be reluctant to have the issues redressed,” he said.

“Some of the mines are now being owned by government bigwigs who are at the helm of workers’ rights violations.

“Influencing policy and legislation becomes insurmountable under those circumstances whereby legislators have vested interest in the mining business.”

The unionist highlighted the adverse consequences this has had on the working conditions of union members as safety standards are disregarded, and below par working conditions persist, denying miners the dignity they deserve.

“Another setback is caused by the dominance of Chinese owned mines and resulted in a ripple effect in the working conditions of our members.

“Safety standards are not being followed and working conditions are below par. 

“Working conditions are not worthy of human dignity and this is a cause for concern,” he said.

Javangwe emphasised the need for equal treatment of all miners regardless of their grade.

This includes payment of fees for all miners’ children as was already the case with managerial-level employees’ dependents.

“As a way forward, we expect all miners to be treated the same despite the grade levels.

“The children’s school bills of all miners should be paid like what is being done at managerial levels.

“The current status promotes a scenario whereby a general hand’s child also becomes a general hand and the CEO’s child always remains the CEO,” said Javangwe.

The union chief said “affordable home ownership schemes should be introduced to all miners including general hands

“When miners retire, they face destitution,” he said.

Addressing safety concerns, Javangwe called upon the National Employment Council and government to implement a pneumoconiosis policy to provide appropriate compensation to affected miners, as the existing National Social Security Authority (NSSA) compensation falls short of meeting their needs.

“There must be stiffer penalties for companies that breach safety standards and expose employees to risk,” said Javangwe.

He also emphasized urgent need for fair remuneration, proposing grouped wages for employees in large companies, such as diamond, platinum, and gold mines, with a minimum of US$1 000 USD for general hand workers.

“On remuneration, we wish to group wages for employees working in large companies e.g diamond, platinum, gold, lithium e.t.c to be paid above US$1 000 for a general hand and above US$500 for small mines and the 13th cheque must be mandatory.

All mining allowances should be reviewed, jobs to be regraded in line with the current scope and Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is outdated.

“The National Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe is determined to tackle these issues head-on, advocating for comprehensive reforms within the mining industry by challenging monopolies, addressing exploitative working conditions, and overhauling outdated policies, the union seeks to secure a better future for mining workers, ensuring their rights are protected and their welfare is prioritised.”

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