Diamond workers form union, bemoan job insecurity

Diamond workers form union, bemoan job insecurity

MUTARE, April 27 (The Source) – Workers in the diamond mining sector have formed a labour union to safeguard their interests, saying current legislation has loopholes that leave them open to abuse by miners.

The Zimbabwe Diamond Miners Workers Union (ZDMWU) was launched at the weekend to help improve the lot of the workers in the lucrative but shacky industry.

“The pieces of legislation governing the mining sector do not cover adequately the worker in this industry because it’s too old. And the Collective Bargaining Agreement leaves loopholes that are being abused by the employer,” ZDMWU president Francis Matinyare said at the launch of the union.

Diamond workers have no job security and are subjected to short-term contracts even when they have been working for several years, in contravention of several sections of the Labour Act, he said.

“The only permanent thing in the mining industry right now is the workers’ anxiety and lack of job security,” Matinyare said.

The launch of the union follows mass retrenchments by diamond miners operating in the Marange fields in the east of the country.

There are six miners in the area, employing a combined 1,000 workers, down from about 1,800 before the industry downturn which set in two years ago.

ZDMWU general secretary Justice Chinhema said the union needs to give legal guidance and protection to workers as most of the retrenched were unfairly dismissed.

It plans to push for the creation of a National Employment Council (NEC) in the diamond industry and set up insurance, wellness, funeral and medical schemes among others.

The union is an affiliate of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Union (ZFTU).