Some Chinese nationals with construction companies in Zimbabwe are allegedly beating up and firing local workers at will, saying they have protection from the government.
This has prompted the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers’ Union to declare war on the Chinese who are long on trade but short on investment.
The union has accused Chinese construction firms of violating labour laws and threatened to take action if such inhuman treatment persists.
The union’s secretary-general Muchapiwa Mazarura said: “We would like to warn the Chinese contractors who are operating in Zimbabwe that
if they do not follow the laid-down laws, the union is going to take strong action against them.”
The union accused the Chinese of not providing protective clothing, underpaying workers, forcing them to work overtime without pay and not
submitting pension contributions, among other unprofessional conduct.
“Since early this year, we have received complaints from our members regarding gross violation of labour laws and we have attempted to engage these companies in an effort to apprise them of the regulations controlling the industry,” said Mazarura.
Contacted for comment yesterday, the owner of Zim Nantong Construction Company, who identified himself only as Ling, cut off the reporter, but a Chinese woman who later picked up the phone, briefly spoke in English before switching to her native language after being told the purpose of the call.
NewsDay also managed to contact Zhang Yong who spoke on behalf of China Jiangxi Corporation.
He denied the allegations saying there was no ill-treatment of workers at his company and that they were happy with their employment conditions including salaries.
“I understand there are some companies that are accused of mistreating workers, but we are not one of them. We pay our workers between $180 and $280 for drivers,” he said.
But the construction union said the deals that government entered into with the Chinese should not be compensated by Zimbabwe “donating human resources” and inhuman treatment of workers should come to an end.
“When the Chinese donate funds for projects and development to the government, they should be reminded that our government does not donate human resources in return,” Mazarura said.
“The union is appealing to the relevant ministries dealing with Chinese projects to inform these companies of the rules and regulations of this country, and these ministries should also engage the relevant organisations dealing with workers to be part and parcel of the contracts because workers’
representatives are being left out in such agreements.”
Recently, the Affirmative Action Group wrote to the Harare Municipality asking the local authority to stop licensing foreigners especially the Chinese as they were not bringing any real business to the country.