Wage dispute boils over at matches firm

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Workers at Lion Matches, a company owned by a Nigerian national Aki Ndele, have moved to recover outstanding wages and thwart attempts by management to shut down the company.

More than 130 workers were last week gathered at the company. They wanted to see the managing director, Lovemore Mandimika, whom they claimed was poised to take over the company, a move they feared could leave them out in the cold.

A document, signed by Mandimika, advised workers that the company could no longer continue to operate because of viability problems.

“In the wake of hyper-inflation and collapse of the financial system, it is taking time for Lion Matches to restructure its operations in a manner that is consistent.

“At this point, in the absence of clarity, with respect to the availability of finance for working capital purposes, it has become necessary to suspend the operations of the company,” reads the document.

The workers are being represented by the Zimbabwe Labour Centre.

Barney Chaparangana, secretary of the workers committee said that a hearing on the matter would take place tomorrow.

“We want to know the correct position from management but Mandimika is shutting us out,” said Chaparangana in papers lodged with the court.

“Workers were supposed to start work on February 1st and they reported for duty as agreed only to be told that the company was facing challenges.

“We cannot leave the company to collapse. Some of us have worked here for decades and to be turned away just like that is not fair,” said a worker who has been with the company for 42 years.

Mandimika was not available for comment.