The strike erupted on Tuesday when workers at Vale’s open cast coal mine at Moatize, in the western province of Tete, discovered that Vale would no longer pay them the part of their wages known as the “Variable Remuneration” (RV). The RV in question refers to 2015.

Vale argues that this is a bonus, rather than part of the wages. A press release from the company says that the RV “is an additional payment which Vale grants to its workers throughout the world as a premium resulting from positive and extraordinary results attained by the company. This remuneration is defined based on the profits generated and the performance of the workers during the year”.

The release says the decision was taken that no RV for 2015 would be paid to any Vale workers, anywhere in its global operations, “because the company did not achieve the minimum financial results required to trigger the payment”.

The release blames this on the falling prices of the minerals produced by Vale, including coal. It also claimed that there is a quarterly summary of the company’s results, which is shared with the work force so that they know about the company’s situation and the strategies it is following.

However, the Moatize strikers say they were taken by surprise by the Tuesday announcement that the RV would not be paid.

Although it regards the strike as illegal, Vale says it is “keeping open its channels of communication with its staff, in coordination with their trade union and with the government”.

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