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Impala, Amplats Face Demand for 50% Zimbabwe Pay Increase

Oct. 7 (Bloomberg) -- A Zimbabwean labor union that is the biggest representative of workers at gold and platinum mines said it would would ask employers Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. to as much as double pay for some members.

The smallest increase sought is 50 percent, the Associated Mine Workers Union of Zimbabwe said in a wage-talks circular seen by Bloomberg News today and dated Oct. 1. Negotiations start in the first week of November. The country’s annual inflation rate was 1.3 percent in August.

Demands for higher wages from operators including Anglo American Platinum Ltd. and Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the biggest producers of the metal that have operations in the southern African nation, come amid a drop in commodity prices and pressure for the companies to cede a majority share of their local assets to black Zimbabweans or the government. The country has the world’s biggest platinum and chrome reserves after South Africa, as well as diamond, gold and coal deposits.

“All sectors in the industry are fast losing patience and they want their salaries raised,” Amwuz President Tinago Ruzive said in an interview in Harare, the capital. “Employers in the gold sector are saying they are not making money, but our members are saying enough is enough, they can’t subsidize the employers any more.”

Diamond Mines

The lowest-paid miners in Zimbabwe get basic wages of $227 monthly, Ruzive said. The union wants salaries to be increased to $560 a month for those in the gold and chrome industries. It is demanding a raise to $1,000 from $500 to $600 monthly for diamond-mine employees, and wants platinum-industry workers to get an increase of 50 percent from $400-$500 now. Amwuz represents 20,000 people, Ruzive said.

“If things don’t improve, we will have another Marikana here,” he said, referring to a 2012 strike at the Lonmin Plc mine in South Africa turned violent and resulted in the deaths of at least 44 workers, including 34 killed by police on Aug. 16.

Rio Tinto Plc operates a diamond mine in Zimbabwe while closely held companies with Chinese and South African shareholders mine the Marange gem field in the east of the country.

To contact the reporter on this story: Godfrey Marawanyika in Harare at gmarawanyika@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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