By Chipo Musoko, HARARE, April 13 (The Source) – Workers in the diamond sector are opposing the proposal by government to merge all diamond mining companies in the country claiming they were not consulted and that they have outstanding wage and labour issues that need to be resolved before the merger.
Recently government proposed to bring all diamond mining operations in the country under one firm in which the state will have a 50 percent shareholding and gave miners up to March 15 to accept the proposal.
The move, according to government will improve effectiveness, accountability and curb corruption and leakages which are rampant in the sector.
Government already owns 50 percent in most of the mines operating in the Marange fields on the eastern border with Mozambique including Marange Resources, Diamond Mining Company (DMC), Anjin, Jinan, Mbada Diamonds and the now defunct Gye Nyame Resources which is under final judicial management.
The move could also affect Murowa which operates in south-central of the country in which Rio Tinto owns 78 percent with the balance being owned by Zimbabwean-listed spin-off RioZim.
Zimbabwe Diamonds and Allied Workers Union (Zidawu) president Cosmas Sunguro told The Source on Monday that workers were opposed to the consolidation as they were not consulted. There were many outstanding labour issues that needed to be addressed before the merger, he added.
“We are totally against the merging of diamond companies until there is wider consultation. We have many outstanding issues including labour issues that have not yet been resolved,” he said, adding that workers were critical stakeholders in the sector hence their voices were important.
He said “unholy marriage” would result in a new company which may refuse to inherit debts and other issue relating to the previous companies including pending labour cases on unpaid salaries.
Sunguro said there was need to address change issues to get a buy-in from workers.
“People will resist change because they have not been informed. They want to know about the advantages and disadvantages of the merger and how this will affect them,” he said.
Marange and Anjin still owe workers outstanding salaries and allowances from last year. Mbada, which laid off over 100 workers last November, reportedly owes the employees over $8 million. The ex-workers have been demonstrating at its head office for over a month.
Anjin has reportedly laid off over 200 workers in the last three months while Jinan laid off over 60 works to streamline operations.
Marange Resources workers said they were still in the dark after being told last Friday that some of them will be retrenched. The firm is also yet to resolve its labour issues with 118 dismissed workers at takeover from Canadile Miners in 2008.
Canadile was a joint venture between Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and Core Mining owned by businessman Lovemore Kurotwi.
Other concerns of workers were how to consolidate wages as the lowest paid at Anjin was earning $300 while Marange and Mbada are reportedly paying $700.
Critics, including academics, who attended a recent stakeholders meeting on the merger in Mutare said the merger would lead to massive retrenchments and result in legal battles.