Hwange workers intimidated to go back to work, without wages

via Hwange workers intimidated to go back to work, without wages | SW Radio Africa by Tererai Karimakwenda 21 September 2013

Workers at Hwange Colliery, who have gone without wages for at least five months now, are reported to have ended their strike action that began last Friday, after managers advertised their positions as available and police violently disrupted their peaceful demonstration.

According to SW Radio Africa correspondent Lionel Saungweme, the workers were supported by their wives as they tried to stage a sit-in demonstration on Friday, to demand payment of wages. But police arrived not long after and dispersed the gathering using brute force.

Many women who had come to support their unpaid husbands were assaulted by the police, with some having to receive treatment at local hospitals. No serious injuries were reported.

Saungweme said: “The wives were beaten but it was the workers who staged a sit-in and management responded by posting adverts for the jobs of the workers that were striking. This was a move to intimidate them to return back to work and as of today many of workers have returned back to work.”

The situation in Hwange has re-fuelled debate about mismanagement and corruption at these government run institutions, as workers at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), have also gone without wages for about nine months. Similar situations exist at many parastatals in the country.

But there are also questions regarding just why the workers stay at a job for such long period without getting any wages and how they manage to pay their rent, food, travel and other basic living expenses.

“Basically there is hope that the company will pay and when it does it will pay workers a lump sum. There is also fear that once somebody leaves work they might not be protected by the labour unions that are there. They also want some kind of a pension in old age,” Saungweme explained.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), which has strongly criticized the failure by parastatals countrywide to manage their operations efficiently, confirmed the situation at Hwange Colliery and the NRZ.

ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo, confirmed to SW Radio Africa that police beat up the wives of Hwange Colliery workers when they tried to stage a sit-in to demand the unpaid salaries last week. There has been no coordinated strike action since.

Explaining why workers continue at a job without pay, Moyo said: “We have to make ends meet by doing other things during the employers’ time because we have got no choice. People tend to misuse the employers premises and equipment to make extra money. As we say ‘it feeds where it is tethered’.”

He added: “It’s a dilemma because workers will feel that maybe things will change tomorrow. So you can’t opt out of work. You have to stay put and hope that when things change you will be found with a job.”

The labour activist did concede that this creates a vicious cycle where there is no production by workers who are not being paid, and the company makes no money to pay them. He said other companies, like Air Zimbabwe and the ZESA power provider, are exploited by ZANU PF officials who do not pay for services.

According to Moyo, the same problems exist within most of the parastatals in Zimbabwe, with workers going unpaid and government appointing managers for political reasons.

“Most of the people deployed in these institutions are not trained to manage civilian institutions. Most of them spend time away tending to their own farms or to political business. Most are either former or serving police officers or army officials,” Moyo said.

Meanwhile, non-government workers also suffered a setback last week, when the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), agreed on an “automatic wage reduction” for workers countrywide.

The resolution by this umbrella body, that brings together big business and industry in Zimbabwe, was adopted during the CZI Congress, held at Bulawayo’s Holiday Inn last week October 9th to 11th.

At the congress, CZI President Charles Msipa reportedly said: “There is need for an automatic wage reduction in terms of companies that are in distress. That is the first cut directionally”.

The ZCTU’s Moyo said with hundreds of companies reported to have already shut down this year, the situation is bound to get worse for workers as even more companies struggle to stay afloat.



  • comment-avatar
    Fallenz 11 years ago

    ZANUPF has no concept of management. Absolutely none. Business management positions as political favors is one of the best examples of gross mismanagement. Total incompetence… but ZANUPF is so clueless, they can’t even see the idiocy of it. But, what is easily seen by everyone else is the result, the effect on the economy, and the hardship on the people.

    Mugabe started a war because of his claim of how poorly the Zim blacks were being treated by the colonialists. So, tell me how much better life is under the oppression of the ZANUPF thumb. Explain how the infrastructure has been well maintained, with expansions in roads, bridges, water systems, sewage systems, electrical grid, etc. have continued in the past 33 years. Let’s hear how the food exports are going, and manufacturing, and how GNP has continued to rise. And, don’t forget to include all those tourist dollars that have contined to pour in.

    Facts is facts, and the fact is that ZANUPF and the Mugabe government has been an utterly failed experiment. They tried, but between incompetence and corruption, they have proven they are good only as destroying a nation, rather than building, or even maintaining one that was in good shape.

  • comment-avatar

    Proudly brought to you by zanpf.I will continue to vote zanupf till the end of time and hope things will change on their own.

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    zacks Muti 11 years ago

    Where is the Associated Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe. they should have challenged the police and management action in court. Section 65 (3) of the new Constitution gives workers the right to strike. this union must wake up

    • comment-avatar
      Gondo Arishaya 11 years ago

      Zacks Muti, were do you live or are you like the rest of the oppressors that roam the devine land odf Zimbabwe with grace as it they simply have a mortgage on it and no other Zimbabwian has a right to express their veiws with out being brutally attacked and abused. Is your head buried in the sand like most Zimbabwins have for the lase 33 years or are you just part of the nation that sees nothing hears nothing and does nothing, or thrieve on oppression.

      “The associated mine workes union of Zimmbabwe to challenge section 65/3 of the new constitution in court for the right of workers to peacefully strike”

      Please tell me where in Zimbabwe i can find a Zimbabwe court that will give me justice as they were all buried in 1980 with democracy and replaced by the ZUNU PF courts that support only oppression and brutality.
      May god bless our beloved country and may we all wake up one morning and see what oppression has turned us into.
      If the nation can not help its self them we have to wait for god alone to help us all

  • comment-avatar
    marasha 11 years ago

    its true lets be on our knees praying

  • comment-avatar
    todii zvazvo 11 years ago

    Regerai basa racho, munofirei chaizvo. VaMugabe vanoti indigenize zviitirei kana kutsvaga rimwe basa kunemimwe migodhi. Mourayirwa vakadzi venyu monyimwa mari yacho. Zvimwe ramwai mhani vachere vega

  • comment-avatar
    Charles Chamunorwa 11 years ago

    Endai Jonny kwakaenda vamwe

  • comment-avatar

    Gondo I am a human rights activist for years, I have several cases that police begged down in court. Eg the banks union was banned twice , challenged in court and two demostrations were held in Harare. Go to you tube and search NMB demo. You dont just ignore things happening but challenge and expose the system for everyone to see the rot