MASVINGO – Masvingo’s biggest gold producer, Rio Tinto’s Renco Mine, has been forced to halt operations after workers’ wives staged a strike and blocked their husbands from going to work.
The irate wives said they were angered by Rio Zimbabwe’s failure to increase salaries as well as pay last year’s annual bonuses.
They camped at the main entrance of the mine in the wee hours of Monday and blocked access into the mine.
When the Daily News arrived at the mine, over 800 women from the mining compound were blocking the gate, toyi toying and singing while demanding their husbands’ dues.
Renco Mine workers’ wives association leader Doreen Madzora said they protested on behalf of their husbands because workers who go on strike face victimisation and termination of employment.
“It is us and the children who bear the brunt of our husbands’ poor remuneration. We are blocking the mine from carrying out operations until they increase salaries and give our husbands their bonuses,” said Madzora.
The women said their husbands were earning meagre salaries of between $100 and $300-a-month. They are demanding a salary hike for their husbands in line with the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) hovering above $500.
Renco Mine workers’ committee chairperson Vincent Matiza confirmed the workers were banking on their wives’ action.
“We have been blocked from entering our workplace by our wives who left us in bed early in the morning,” he said.
“It is true we were not given our bonuses last year and our employer is declining to increase our paltry salaries. So our wives took it upon themselves to express their disgruntlement,” said Matiza.
“They say they will only move if their demands are met.”
Matiza said workers’ rights such as embarking on a job action were not respected at the mine.
He claimed that about 100 workers were fired for participating or attempting to organise an industrial action to demand decent wages and better working conditions last year alone.
Renco Mine manager Syprine Kachisa declined to comment when the Daily News visited his residence saying he was chased away by angry mine workers’ wives when he attempted to access his office.
“I am the mine manager but I am not allowed to comment to the press. You better get in touch with Rio Zimbabwe MD, Ashton Ndlovu at our head offices in Harare,” said Kachisa.
Ndlovu could not be reached for comment as he was said to be out of the country. – Godfrey Mtimba