GWERU: More than 30 workers who have been working with a Chinese company contracted to do engineering work at Sino Zimbabwe were left stranded after their employee fled the mine following a confrontation over unjust working conditions.
The company management of Transtech Engineering has however denied the manipulative working environment allegations and instead told CommuTalk that they had to leave Midlands since their contractor, Sino-Zim had abruptly ended their contract.
Among the worker’s grievances that had not been attended to for more than a year included lack of safety wear, long working hours, unpaid leave, and low salaries.
The workers also complained that COVID-19 protocols, including tests, were not being handled by professionals.
“As workers, we had put down a number of complaints. These included underpayment, unpaid leave days, and working with no proper protective wear. We also had challenges of having COVID-19 protocols being performed by non-professionals. The supervisor himself conducted tests that did not go well with us. The time we downed tools, our employer then vanished leaving us stranded,” an employee said.
“As if that was not enough, our supervisor gave us informal dismissal. Protesting unfair dismissal and unfair labor practices, we have decided to stay in camp until we are properly addressed,” further said the employee.
“We have also been staying in a compound with no ablution facilities. We even bathe in the bush tops to all suffering we face,” another employer added.
Transtech Engineering supervisor, Lameck Kajamacheke who denied all allegations however had a different comment to the fracas.
“The correct position is that our contract was abruptly terminated by Sino-Zim. I am currently in Harare until the bosses call me back to work,” Kajamacheke said.
The company Director only identified as Shu denied commenting on workers’ welfare but insisted on saying that there is no work anymore since their contractor had cut them off.
“My contract with Sino-Zim was brusquely terminated and there is no more job,” he said.
Miners Workers Union official, Precious Mujere, operating under the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) also confirmed that they have been told about the ongoings and vowed to take necessary actions towards defending worker’s rights.
“We have received several grievances from the workers at Transtech Engineering. As a Union, we are taking the necessary legal action. This is gross ill-treatment; it is now a number of days and the workers are still stranded at the site hungry. we will not tolerate this,” Mujere said.
Meanwhile, Chinese diplomats have been of late embroiled in a vicious war of words with Zimbabwe’s labor unions over allegations that businesspeople from the Asian country are abusing their local employees.
Over the years, China has seen its influence on the Zimbabwean economy grow with investments in mining and construction projects, but the companies are routinely accused of ill-treating their workers.
Unions say the Zimbabwean government often looks the other way when they report Chinese employers for violation of labor laws.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the largest labor center representing private-sector employees, recently torched a storm when it used social media to expose what it described as “slave-like working conditions” at a Chinese owned tile manufacturing factory on the outskirts of Harare.