VUMBACHIKWE Mine in Gwanda, Matabeleland South province, has promised to pay its workers outstanding dues following a unique protest by the wives of the employees.
The mine suspended operations last month after wives joined their husbands in protesting the non-payment of salaries.
Police arrested some of the protectors while the company declared the strike illegal and suspended three members of the workers committee without pay.
Workers committee chairperson Gibson Sibanda said 1 017 people took park in the strike.
In a letter dated December 12, mine manager None Kananji promised that workers would get part of the payment immediately.
“Regarding the outstanding salaries, wages and back pay owed to the workers as at November 8, 2022, shall be calculated and divided by the six months period in which the workers’ plan will be in place,” the letter read.
“Therefore, it is in the best interest of all parties that a workers committee is elected as soon as possible, and the plan put into effect to allow workers to resume receiving the money owed to them to ensure decent welfare of the workforce.”
Kananji said the drafting of a workout plan needed the approval of the worker’s committee.
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He said there was need for the worker’s committee to be legally constituted.
“Workers are, therefore, encouraged to convene hastily to constitute their worker’s committee as there can never be resumption of operations without an agreed final version of the workout plan and the mine cannot reopen at full capacity without a worker’s committee having been party to the process towards the same,” Kananji wrote.
Senior labour officer in the Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare ministry for Matabeleland South, one T Chisveto, responded to the letter saying his office was ready to conduct elections of the workers’ committee today.
“Vumbachikwe mine management can prepare the time that is convenient for the employees to convene and either elect or re-endorse the workers committee,” the letter read.
Gwanda-based human rights watchdog Coalition for Citizens Advocates secretary-general Wilbert Ndiweni yesterday told Southern Eye that Vumbachikwe mine management was making unfair demands to desperate workers.
“This is a serious violation of workers’ rights and the country's labour laws regarding wages and salaries. We are appealing to Vumbachikwe management to at least show humane concern and avert a possible social calamity by giving these suffering human beings their earnings so that they also restore order in their families which are in abject poverty. We, as an organisation, appeal to the government to intervene at Vumbachikwe before a social calamity unfolds.”