March 24, 2012 / 2:10 PM / 7 years ago

Chinese diamond miner ups wages to end Zimbabwe strike

HARARE, March 24 (Reuters) - Anjin, the biggest miner operating in Zimbabwe’s controversial Marange diamond fields, said on Saturday a two-day strike by workers had ended after management agreed to a 25-percent wage hike.

In previous strikes by local employees, Chinese-run Anjin was accused of unfair treatment including beatings by management.

Wages were the focus of the latest walkout, Munyaradzi Machacha, a director at Anjin, told Reuters.

“We had a strike where workers wanted their pay to be increased,” Machacha said.

“The workers have since gone back to work after they were awarded a 25 percent increase in both wages and salaries.”

Keeping diamond mining on track is vital for the government, which owns half of Anjin and relies on the industry for revenue.

Anjin employs 1,500 Zimbabweans and more than 200 Chinese.

The Marange area where it operates, 400 km (240 miles) east of Harare, has generated controversy since 20,000 small-scale miners invaded the area in 2008 and were forcibly removed by soldiers and police.

Human rights groups say up to 200 people were killed during the process, charges denied by the Zimbabwean government.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said last August that police and private security employed by some mine owners were shooting, beating and using attack dogs against unlicensed miners.

Anjin has denied any wrongdoing.

The Marange area had been the focus of diamond export controls by the Kimberly Process for suspected human rights violations in mining of the precious stones.

But last year miners including Anjin received export approval after the United States, Canada and the European Union dropped objections, ending two years of dispute.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti warned this month that Zimbabwe’s government risked having to shut down because projected revenue from the diamond industry had failed to come through.

Biti is a member of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change which is in an uneasy coalition government with 88-year-old President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party.

Anjin is a joint venture between the government’s Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation and China’s state-owned Anhui Foreign and Economic Construction Company.

It plans to mine up to 10 million carats this year. (Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Jason Neely)

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