THE Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers’ Union (ZDAMWU) has raised alarm over rampant sexual harassment of female mine workers.
Sexual harassment, also called sexual violence could cause the victims to lose their jobs, suffer physical and emotional pain, loss of income and various other negative consequences.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) says sexual harassment are behaviours in workplaces manifesting in the form of offensive phone calls or non-verbal comments such as sexually suggestive gestures and display of sexual materials, physical violence, which effectively compromises equality and quality of work among others.
Speaking on the sidelines of the ZDAMWU Gwanda District elections in Gwanda recently, the union’s secretary general Mr Justice Chinhema said there was a need to come up with laws to protect women against sexual harassment.
“We’ve seen parliamentarians going around investigating sexual harassment in colleges. That tells you a story. It is also rampant in the mines. Female miners are facing harassment because partly because they’re very few.
You go to a mine set up and you find showers for men but there are no bathrooms where ladies can take a shower after work which means female employees are not regarded as key as male employees,” he said.
“We’ve started doing campaigns for ILO Convention 190. ILO Convention 190 speaks about gender balance and sexual harassment in the workplace.
We’ve engaged all female parliamentarians to get the ball rolling so that the Convention is ratified. For it to be ratified, it has to be discussed in Parliament.
At mine level, we’ve said we want to see sexual harassment policies. We also want to have a sexual harassment policy at district level and at national level as well.”
The ILO Violence and Harassment Convention No. 190 as read with Recommendation No. 206 provides for an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach to put an end to violence and harassment.
Mr Chinhema said in Gwanda District, the casualisation of labour was also rampant.
“Workers are employed on fixed-term contracts which is a cause for concern.
We know that mining provides lifetime employment,” he said. Mr Chinhema said a significant number of mine workers in the district earn the local currency or the United States dollar although most businesses trade in Rands.
“What it means is that we’re losing production when people come to town to change their money to Rands which poses a challenge.
The miners need to be given a currency that can be used in the district,” he said.
Mr Chinhema said it was worrying to note that workers don’t know their rights which leads to cases of unreported abuse.
“Workers are treated badly and some of them don’t even realise that they’re being abused because they don’t know their rights,” he said. Chronicle