Mining union calls on govt to roll out Covid-19 mass testing in mining areas

Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) has claimed that there are Covid-19 cases which are going unreported in mining areas. 

This comes at a time when the High Court Judge Justice Mary Dube has granted an order compelling the Ministry of Health and Child Care and Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services to disseminate comprehensive information on the Covid-19 pandemic. 

To date the country has recorded 33 814 cases, 26 794 recoveries and 1 254 deaths. 

In a statement, ZDAMWU General Secretary, Justice Chinhema said they have noted that there are more unreported Covid-19 cases in mines which seem to be very high. 

“Since the beginning of the year ZDAMWU has been on ground in districts such as Hwange, Zvishavane, Bikita and Esigodini carrying out Covid-19 awareness campaigns. We have been educating workers and communities about  the Covid-19, the second wave which is more deadly than the first wave and we are therefore encouraging workers to practice the required regulations,” said Chinhema. 

“We are concerned about the unreported Covid-19 cases which seem to be high and we believe there is a need to carry out massive tests in mining communities.” 

Chinhema said the situation is more serious in small scale mines where they visited. 

“In places such as Esigodini where there is no adherence to Covid-19 regulations and no regard to the law. Not much is being done to educate this sector,” he said. 

The workers’ union also said they are currently raising awareness in mining communities to fight Covid-19. 

“As a union we are raising awareness in mining communities to fight Covid-19 by and being proactive as we intend to distribute about 5000 face masks across to families of mine workers. 

He added that they are even mobilizing for resources from organizations that can help with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“We will be sending SOS to our other sister unions outside Zimbabwe like NUM in South Africa through industrial for help towards test kits. We need to carry out testing of workers and families in mining communities where we think cases are not reported,” said Chinhema. 

Meanwhile, Chinhema also said they are also lobbying for Covid-19 allowances for mine workers. 

“We have also been active on the ground attending hearings of our members. We will not flinch and back down in demanding and lobbying for Covid-19 allowances for mine workers. The allowance will go a long way in motivating mine workers. We are aware that employers want production, at the expense of workers safety,” he said. 

“Let us reiterate this point that we would like to strongly warn some employers who are raising misconduct cases against our members because they would have voiced concern on workers safety, we would like to tell such employers that ZDAMWU will not be intimidated,” Chinhema said.

“We shall be coming in full force to defend our members. The anti-union attitude they are exhibiting must stop. They raise flimsy excuses that they don’t allow outsiders on site which is unfair, we will have visual disciplinary hearings. Our members have the right to legal representation which is why they joined ZDAMWU and we will not back down in representing workers.” 

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