Zimbabwe mining companies – which include units of Anglo Platinum, Impala Platinum and Caledonia Mining – are to award a wage increase of just under 80% to mine workers, with the salary for the lowest-paid worker in the industry rising to about 480 RTGS dollars* per month.
At current rates, this amounts to approximately US$192 or R2 800.
Protracted negotiations between the Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe (AMWUZ) and the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines resulted in the salary adjustment for employees in the industry. The cost of living in the country rose dramatically after inflation for January surged to above 50%.
"Following extensive negotiations between the AMWUZ and the Zimbabwe chamber of mines, we managed to cobble out an agreement of 80% wage/salary increase for the mining industry covering the period January to December 2019," Tinago Ruzive, president of the mine workers' union, said Thursday.
This effectively raised the minimum wage for the industry from 262.32 to 468.58 RTGS dollars at a time other companies in Zimbabwe have been introducing allowances to cushion workers from the current economic hardships Zimbabwe is experiencing.
These include price increases and unavailability of basic commodities, while transport costs have also risen, after President Emerson Mnangagwa instituted a hike in the price of petrol which sparked protests in January.
"This (mine workers' salary) increase is based on the dollar value increase for those mines who may be paying above the minimum due to various reasons...therefore no employee shall fail to get an increase," added Ruzive.
Some Zimbabwean miners are said to be paying their workers in foreign currency, although others have been struggling to secure forex earnings from the Reserve Bank.
Zimbabweans have been facing foreign currency shortages and the continued devaluation in the local RTGS dollar unit.
Mining executives at mining groups such as Metallon Corporation and Zimplats say they are still studying the impact of new currency directives from the central bank, which devalued the country’s local currency and directed that bank accounts earning local funds and those earning forex be separated.
According to Zimplats, the demand for foreign currency - which is necessary for its operations and business capital requirements - tends to fluctuate.
To this end, the company – controlled by Implats – continues "to engage the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe where necessary to ensure that our operations are not interrupted".
*Real-time gross settlement dollars have effectively been the new currency of Zimbabwe since mid-February 2019. According to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the average US$/RTGS$ exchange rate on Thursday 14 March was 2.71, meaning one US dollar buys 2.71 units of the new Zimbabwean currency.