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The Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (Zdamwu) has called upon the Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe (CoMZ) and all mine workers to immediately stop going to work for the next 30 days in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus.The call by Zdamwu follows the gazetting of a 21-day lockdown decree by government to minimise the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

“While we appreciate some of the efforts that are being put by government to prevent the spread of the virus, we believe that these are not enough if mines continue business as usual, thus our call for Chamber of Mines to take the next decisive act of shutting down all mines across the country,” read a letter signed by the union’s general secretary Justice Chinhema.

“This should be supported with an assurance that workers will not lose their wages, leave, and other benefits due to this pandemic. Individual mines are encouraged to prioritise dialogue and consultation and through works council on how to make sure essential services that should be manned by a workforce that is well protected and motivated.”

However, CoMZ revealed in its report that that mineral production for the second quarter of 2020 may decline by about 60% compared to the first quarter, with revenue losses exceeding US$400 million due to COVID-19 effects.

It said the revenue loss for the first 30 days arising from a total lockdown exceeds US$200 million, with estimated loss for gold and platinum of about US$160 million.

Potential revenue loss for nickel, ferrochrome, coal, and diamonds for the second quarter of 2020 is estimated to exceed US$100 million, it said.

“While we are aware that other countries have put in place measures to compensate workers for the loss of incomes, we call upon our employers to be empathetic to their employees and provide the necessary social security safety nets as a matter of urgency since the disruptions to production have been occasioned by a superior force beyond anyone’s control,” Chinhema said.

“Employers should also act responsibly and refrain from taking advantage of this situation to deduct workers annual leave days. Good employers should lead by example and prioritise their employees’ safety at this critical juncture by closing mines while monitoring the situation.”