HomeNewsSteelmakers labour dispute turns racial

Steelmakers labour dispute turns racial

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REDCLIFF — A labour dispute at Steelmakers Zimbabwe has turned racial with workers accusing their Asian management of paying hefty allowances to unqualified expatriate employees at the expense of locals.

The workers also accused their management of ill-treating them.

The company workers’ union led by a T Dhima recently compiled a two-page dossier in which they alleged among other things racial abuse, low wages and selective remuneration on racial grounds.

The dossier has also been copied to the spy agency, Central Intelligence Organisation and the Joseph Chinotimba-led Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions.
Sources at the company told NewsDay the lowest paid worker at Steelmakers was taking home around $120 against a National Employment Council (NEC)-approved $240.

The workers alleged they were made to walk home at night after night shifts while their colleagues of Indian origin were driven home. The company also rented accommodation for them.

In particular, the union accused company general manager Ayaynga Ravi of fanning racism since he joined the steel manufacturing company 12 months ago.

“On the contrary unqualified expatriates are enjoying hefty salaries and benefits . . . whilst denying giving employees (Zimbabweans) cost of living adjustment.
“You have been buying new luxurious cars for Indian managers and again denying transport to ferry them to their respective places even after night shift,” reads part of the document.

But, the company’s top management dismissed the allegations as baseless saying genuine workers’ grievances were being spiced up with racial undertones so as to court sympathy from the public.

Group general manager Alexander Johnson said: “Workers want money, but unfortunately industry is not performing and we are making losses. So, we are unable to improve their salaries. However, some people are throwing in racial comments to attract political sympathy.”

Johnson also told NewsDay that owing to the losses, the company had applied for an NEC exemption from paying the approved salaries and wages.

“You will understand that when you make such applications, we are vetted for eligibility, this does just not happen. We went through all the stages and got approval from NEC,” he said.

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