Mine workers condemn new social security law
Hundreds of North Mara Gold Mine workers have strongly opposed the new Social Security Law which bars them from withdrawing their benefits until they attain 55 years of age.
They have accused Members of Parliament (MPs) of allegedly passing the new law without involving key stakeholders including them and appealed to President Jakaya Kikwete for immediate intervention.
“Many workers here are students and they are looking for school fees to go back to school, how can you bar them from getting their benefits until they attain 55 years and why are we informed when the law is already in use,” Mr Daniel Kasela, one of the North Mara Mine workers lamented over the weekend.
“Almost all mine workers rely on benefits due to insufficient salaries. We are asking our President to revoke this law so that we can get our money,” another mine worker identified as William Mathias complained. They cited poor job security granted to mine workers in the country as one of the things not favoured by the new law.
“The kind of job we are doing here is very controversial and dangerous, even the mere smell of alcohol can make you lose a job at any minute. This law is unfair,” Mr Werema Chambiri who operates one of the heavy mine trucks bitterly complained. They aired their views to the Kisarawe Member of Parliament, Mr Selemani Jafo (CCM), after he visited the mine on Saturday.
Ms Asimwe Kafirika (27), a geologist at the mine shed tears while explaining what she described as difficult environment she undergoes when sampling and logging gold sand, something which prompted the entire gathering including the visiting MP to shed tears for several minutes.
“We are working under difficult conditions and this is a bad law. We don’t want it either now or for the future generation; it should be removed once and for good,” Ms Asimwe complained. North Mara is one of the largest gold mines operated by African Barrick Gold (ABG), Tanzanian leading gold producer.
ABG has 1,073 workers at North Mara Mine site but there are 2,500 more workers employed by the mine contractors, according to the human resources department. The MP’s tour of the mine was prompted by pressure from the workers who had threatened to lay down tools, citing the new move by Social Security Regulatory Authority (SSRA) to create a law barring withdrawal of benefits until a member of a pension fund attains 55 years and above.
The lawmaker told the angry workers that he is the one who raised the matter in parliament recently and that he was working round the clock to collect views from stakeholders that will help to push the government submit a bill during the on-going parliament for fresh discussions to amend the law.
“This agenda is on advanced stage and it only needs blessings from the Speaker for fresh discussion,” Mr Jafo told the mine workers. They thanked the youthful MP for the efforts pledging full support. “We are condemning this law and we are behind you honourable MP,” several speakers told Mr Jafo. They also claimed that the new law has plunged them into frustration, hence making them fail to perform their duties properly as it was the case in the past.
By MUGINI JACOB, Tanzania Daily News
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