- April 21, 2020
- Posted in LOCAL
The Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union is fully supportive of the Government’s decision to extend the lockdown by another two weeks ending on May 3, 2020, as a drastic measure to contain the spread of COVID-19 which has claimed thousands lives worldwide.
Insight of these developments and given the blanket reprieve to the Mining Industry to scale up operations, we have written to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare appealing to be considered to monitor employers’ compliance in mitigating the spread of COVID 19 across all mines in Zimbabwe.
As the country went on national lockdown as announced by his Excellency the President of Zimbabwe Comrade E.D Munangagwa on 28 March 2020, Mines in zimbabwe big and small were issued temporary exemptions by the Minister of Mines pending consideration by the Government of Zimbabwe. For a mine to be exempted, they were required to apply through the Chamber of Mines or Zimbabwe Miners Federation making a commitment that they will observe the lockdown regulations that were set like decongesting the workplace, observance of respiratory hygiene, personal hygiene, social distancing at work as well as in transit to and from work. As most mines grabbed the opportunity to operate, we noted that the conditions set to operate were not fully observed.
The union wrote to the Minister of Labour on 4 April 2020 requesting to be granted essential service status because we were receiving complaints from members that nothing has changed even with the conditions set to operate, unfortunately, our request was declined. It is a fact that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, some mines were failing to provide basic PPE to its employees and with the added responsibility we knew that some employers were not going to put in place measures that protect workers against the pandemic as set by the Ministry of Health in line with the World Health Organisation guidelines
With the reprieve given to the Mining Industry to scale up their operations, we have decided to approach the Minister again for a reprieve allowing us to monitor how employers are complying with the set down conditions.
The union feels that in order to ensure and ascertain the safety of workers and their communities it has a natural duty and obligation to closely monitor and enforce the set conditions put in place by Government to combat COVID-19.
We are also disturbed by widespread reports that some employers are victimising workers by sending them home on unpaid leave in violation of the provisions of the Labour Act, a development which will antagonise industrial relations and subsequently led to disruptions in productivity on the mines.
Employers are forthwith warned and should stop all attempts to victimise workers and instead direct their energy to source materials in the form of PPE for use by their workers during this turbulent period faced by our nation.
The global situation we are in requires the engagement of parties not what we are seeing happening. A win-win situation has to be reached by parties.
In view of these circumstances, the union believes that it is duty-bound to enforce safety, health and welfare issues faced by workers during these trying times. While the union is fully behind and in support of the reprieve given to the mining sector by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, it is unfortunate that failure to allow unions to closely monitor compliance will lead to a health catastrophe and unfair dismissals which will result in unnecessary loss of lives and is also against the spirit and letter of the Labour Act.
Given a chance to exercise our mandatory duties, the union will through its officers spread across all provinces visit mining sites ensure uninterrupted
We are therefore calling on productivity and ensure that workers are provided with all the necessary PPE as well as ensuring that employers are in compliance with the guidelines to combating COVID-19.
The relevant authorities must ensure that more players are included in the fight against this pandemic in the form of embracing a multi-sectorial approach in order to save lives.