KWEKWE: 2021 marks four years since African Chrome Fields employees started complaining about ‘slave like’ working conditions amid management maintain that those spreading the reports have ulterior motives.
In January 2017, ACF Assistant to National Project Liaison Director, Natalie Graaf, responding to questions from her South African base, dismissed the disgruntled workers as ‘a small fraction’ of ‘dissidents bent on fermenting mischief.
A visit at the mine by CommuTalk however revealed that employees are indeed working under exacting conditions.
Workers say management at the ferrochrome producing firm have failed to provide adequate personal protective equipment and fair labour practices among other issues.
Information gathered also reveal that employees earn between ZWD600 and ZWD1000 a month well below the National Employment Council (NEC) minimum pegged wage rates of ZWD 18 000 for the least paid as of October 2020 for the mining sector.
Irked by the refusal to adjust the wages in line with the dictates of the law, the workers embarked on an industrial action on Friday last week to air their grievances to a situation that they say has resulted in serious victimisation of employees who are also made to work without PPEs exposing them not only to harm but also to COVID19.
“My brother I come from Gokwe, I can’t even go back to see my family as the money I earn here is hardly enough for my bus fare alone. I can only buy food so what I am doing here is hand to mouth. The food is not even enough so I have arranged my relatives to sell some goats and send money for bus fair because I can’t stand this new form of slaver,” one employee said.
“You are our only hope. We are producing big here as you can see but what do we have to show for it. We are crying to government to say we are your children in the bush being made to make some foreigners rich and yet we are not getting anything at all. This is heart-breaking,” added another employee.
CommuTalk is reliably informed that the company management engages middlemen or runners to lure unsuspecting mine workers from as far as Binga to the firm with promises of huge earnings only to be shocked when they sign the contracts at the mine.
With no proper wages, the workers will be stuck at the mine some 60 kilometres east of Kwekwe town where there is no public transport and with no meaningful wages, they will then be stuck at the mine doing menial duties for pittance.
Asked to respond on the allegations, ACF general manager Mark Beukes instead threatened this reporter with unspecified actions as he threw them out of the mining facility despite producing the necessary identification.
“Who sent you here? Why can’t you people leave us alone. This is my premises so get out. I don’t want to entertain you please leave,” he said.
ACF, a subsidiary of Moti group of companies which is owned by South African businessman Zunaid Moti.