Karoi mine workers strike over 13-month salary debt

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By: Nhau Mangirazi / Source: Newsday / The Dawn News / January 1, 2017

KAROI — Over 200 workers at the Zimbabwe German Graphite Mine, trading as Lynx Mine, downed their tools on Friday demonstrating against non-payment of their salaries for the past 13 months.

The mine is jointly owned by the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) and Graphit Kropfmhul Gmbh of Germany.

The disgruntled workers, who have vowed to continue with the industrial action, at the weekend blocked six trucks from collecting graphite from the mine demanding their dues and an improvement in their working

“We have gone for 13 months without salaries. We are living in darkness as there is no electricity at the mine compound after it was switched off due to a debt running into several hundreds of thousands owed to Zesa,” a workers’ committee member, who declined to be named, said.

He said they were now drinking untreated water from the mine dam as a result of the power cut.

“Some suppliers have come and grabbed properties as the mine is failing to pay off debts. Surprisingly, 14 containers of graphite were loaded in December, but there are no salaries for us,” the worker claimed.

“The money is being used to pay officials managing the mine affairs at the expense of the suffering worker on the ground. We do not know what they are using the proceeds for as they claim the company is in the red.”

A senior official confirmed that all was not well at the mine, as graphite prices had slumped on the world market.

“We used to get at least $600 per tonne, but now it is $340 per tonne due to declining world market prices,” said the unnamed official, who said he was not authorised to speak to the media.

Zimbabwe Diamond Workers’ Union secretary-general Justice Chinhema confirmed the work stoppage and urged management to urgently resolve the workers’ grievances.

“We hope management will address issues raised by workers that include non-payment of salaries and better working conditions affecting several families,” he said.

Chinhema disclosed that they had, on several occasions, raised with ZMDC the mine workers’ grievances with the successive Mines ministers, but without success.

Efforts to contact ZMDC headquarters in Harare for comment were fruitless as their landlines went unanswered.

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