Shanxi Corporation workers are accusing their employer of charging them exorbitant rentals for sub-standard company accommodation.
“There are between 40 and 50 resident workers at the company’s headquarters in Whitecliffe,” one worker said. “A married employee is given one room for use with his family while two or three singles share one room.
The worker added, “Our employer deducts US$15 from each employee as rent for the houses which are made of wooden blocks and are in very bad condition as they do not have enough space for occupants and some are cracked while others are shaking.”
The workers said when their employer started deducting the rentals a month ago; he claimed it was for repair work on the sewer system which had been blocked for a long time.
They said they had been without running water since February this year while the toilets remained blocked despite the fact that the company was deducting money from the workers’ salaries to rectify the problem.
“This is not the first time that our money has been deducted but not used for our benefit,” said another worker. “All along, the employer has been deducting pension and some National Social Security Authority (NSSA) money from our earnings but when we inquired with the relevant authorities, we were told that there was no record of the company or its workers.”
The workers also complained of poor pay. Professionals like mechanics andplumbers were getting a general hand wage of US94 cents per hour, paid in fractions, they claimed.
They said those assigned duties out of Harare were not given any allowances despite working outside normal hours.
“We also do not have protectiveclothing,” another employee said. “You can find someone moulding bricks in their own slippers or shoes.”
The workers have requested protective clothing such as overalls, helmets, gloves and safety shoes, among other things, but to no avail.
At one time, the workers weresaid to have been supplied with stale mealie-meal after labour organisations recommended a US$1 per day lunch allowance.
Another recommendation that each worker be given 1kg soap per month was being implemented piecemeal, with each worker getting a small piece of bar soap, they claimed.
“Our government should protect us against such abuse because if we complain, we are threatened with being fired or simply told to leave,” another employee said.
“Are there no laws to protect vulnerable people in this country?” he wanted to know.
Elson Madhombiro, a manager at the company, refused to comment referring all questions to a human resources officer Rumbi Sakabuya.
Sakabuya said she would prefer to discuss the matter in a meeting but was not in the office when The Standard visited the company offices.
The National Union of Quarry Workers of Zimbabwe early this year accused Chinese employers at Ngezi Mine in Zvishavane of allegedly ill-treating and underpaying their workers.
Union leader Onias Munenga said: “Chinese miners are not abiding by the country’s labour laws.
Last year, government said it was probing Chinese companies for ill-treating workers and violating health and safety regulations.”