via Tongaat Hullet strike enters second week, to affect sugar supplies – Newsday December 9, 2015
MASVINGO —The strike by 16 000 Tongaat Hullet’s workers in has entered its second week, disrupting crushing of harvested cane into sugar which will impact on sugar supplies.
By Tatenda Chitagu
The lowest-paid workers downed tools at the start of the month demanding an upward salary review from $170 to $350 in line with what other employees at the company’s subsidiaries in South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique, were getting.
Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Industry Workers’ Union (ZISMIWU) secretary-general Tendeukai Chinooneka said the strikers would not go back to work until management addressed their grievances.
“The strike is ongoing as the employer is yet to address our concerns. We are not backing down because the employer has been arrogant, offering a $5 increase which did not come,” he said yesterday. Chinooneka said workers gave a 14-day notice to down tools and were acting in accordance with the law after being miffed by the fact that the Zimbabwean subsidiary’s workers were the most productive, yet least paid in the region.
Tongaat Hullet’s corporate affairs manager Adelaide Chikunguru-Musvovi confirmed that crushing had been interrupted at the Triangle plant, but dispelled fears that the strike would impact on sugar supplies as disruptions were minimal. She said the $170 minimum wage was in accordance with what other workers in the agricultural sector were getting.
“The minimum wage of $170 is the highest in the agricultural and agro-processing industry. Workers also receive subsidised housing, water, amenities and education. Tongaat Hullet’s will continue to engage ZISMIWU for an amicable solution,” she said.
She said they would apply for a court interdict to stop the strike.
Efforts to get a comment from the General Agricultural and Plantation Workers’ Union to establish the payment rates in the agricultural sector drew blanks yesterday.