BY SILAS NKALA
THE Chinese-owned — Fools Investment Mine near Bulawayo has been summoned to the National Employment Council (NEC) for the mining industry to answer charges of underpaying employees and failing to provide protective clothing.
The mine was recently caught in the eye of a storm after one of its directors assaulted two employees over outstanding salaries.
The National Union of Mines Quarrying, Iron and Steel Workers of Zimbabwe (NUMQISWZ), which represents mine workers recently, petitioned the company demanding that it must provide the workers with protective clothing.
The union had given the company up to January 29, to comply with or to respond to the petition.
But the company did not act on the matter, prompting the union to take the issue to the NEC for the mining industry.
NUMQISWZ regional officer Abraham Kavalanjila confirmed that the union on behalf of 81 workers had taken the matter to the NEC for adjudication.
“The hearing is set for February 17,” Kavalanjila said.
“The workers are paid between $12 000 to $14 000 per month, instead of $18 000 which is the minimum salary for the least paid worker,” he said.
“You are hereby notified that the matter concerning Kembo Hofisi and 80 others pertaining to allegations of under payment of wages, non- payment of benefits, non provision of PPES, late payment of wages and non-provision of toilet ablution facilities in respect of which reference was made on February 5, 2021 and to which you are a party, shall be heard before a designated agent Mr. F Chitsenga at the NEC for the Mining Industry . . . Bulawayo on February 17 at 10am,” reads the notification to Fools Investment Mine manager, Thabani Masuku.
“If as a party you fail to attend the hearing at the time and place notified, the hearing may proceed without you to the possible detriment of your interests.”
NUMQISWZ Legal Education and training officer Shadreck Pelewelo a week ago said that since the inception of the mine, workers had been forced to work without protective clothing.
He said they were asked to buy their own safety clothing.
Pelewelo said at times they worked under a very risky environment whereby electricity goes off, resulting in some workers spending two days underground.
“We want to put a stop to this. We have written to them and have given a deadline for them to respond. They have not responded and they have not bought the safety clothing for the workers. In terms of section 104 (iv) of the labour Act, workers can go on industrial action without giving notice based on the dangers they face in their working environment,” Pelewelo said.
Masuku said they had received the communication from the union and would respond.
Follow Silas on Twitter @silasnkala