By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
22 January 2014
Mine workers at Gaths Asbestos Mine, who had been on strike to protest unpaid wages, have been threatened with dismissal, forcing them to return to work.
More than 800 workers at the Mashava-based mine have not been paid for more than six months. Last week, the workers went on strike to try and force their employer to pay them.
But the industrial action was called off Tuesday when ZANU PF officials, state security agents, and war vets, threatened workers with dismissal if they persisted with the strike, according to a Daily News report.
Some workers told the paper that ZANU PF legislator for Masvingo West Ezra Chadzamira ordered them to return to work while the wage issue was being addressed.
“We were just told to go and work while we wait for our salaries, but it’s not clear when that will be,” the Daily News quoted one of the workers as saying.
Another worker told the paper: “We were ordered to go back to work or we get fired. They said those who resisted the order were opposition supporters and were threatened with unspecified consequences.”
Gaths Mine is part of the Shabanie Mashava Mines, which was seized by government 10 years ago from its owner Mutumwa Mawere. The South African-based businessman has been fighting to regain his companies since. In October last year he filed an application at the Constitutional Court seeking to repossess several of his businesses, including SMM.
National Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Tinashe Mugwira said he was disturbed by what is happening in the mining sector.
“Most mines, particularly small-scale ones, are being run mafia-style since the indigenisation programme started.
“The new managers are disregarding labour laws and ill-treat workers. Some withhold workers’ wages or pay them as little as $50,” Mugwira told SW Radio Africa on Wednesday.
Mugwira said it was a workers’ right to embark on industrial action as a part of the bargaining process and it was wrong for politicians to interfere in labour issues.
“Rather than intimidating workers, Chadzamira should be sympathising with his constituents and highlighting their plight at the highest level.
“It is unfortunate that in Zimbabwe those who are supposed to be representing the people are actually the ones who are promoting their exploitation,” Mugwira added.
Mugwira said the mine workers union was dealing with another case at Ox Mining in Kadoma, where deputy mines minister Freddy Moyo was failing to pay hundreds of workers after he took over the mining concern from some international investors.
See also – Gaths Mine worker on strike