There was drama at a Chinese-owned chrome mining firm in Gweru last Friday after disgruntled workers reportedly locked up their management in an office at the company premises the whole night following a wrangle over unpaid salaries.
Company general manager Tendayi Kawanzaruwa confirmed the incident which occurred at ZOL Mining (Pvt) Ltd in Gweru.
He said an estimated 200 employees turned rowdy and locked up the company’s top management.
Those reportedly held hostage were company chairperson Nianhai Zheng, Kawanzaruwa, a human resources officer only identified as Manjengwa, the salaries administrator, accountant and two secretaries.
Kawanzaruwa said riot police were later called in to contain the situation.
The workers — drawn from the company’s two mining sites in Lalapanzi — were allegedly demanding payment of their June salaries and backpay.
When NewsDay visited the company premises on Saturday morning, management were still locked up and only the two secretaries had been released.
Kawanzaruwa said: “Workers blocked the exit on Friday demanding their salaries. We owe employees about $174 000 in June salaries and backpay. We are finding it difficult to raise the amount since we are facing viability problems but, we hope the situation would be addressed.”
He said ZOL Mining had been grappling to raise salaries since April and there were plans to sell off some of the company’s equipment to settle the arrears.
Workers’ committee chairperson Prosper Rubvute also confirmed the incident and blasted management for reneging on their earlier promise to settle the arrears before June 14.
“We had agreed that management settle outstanding salary arrears on June 14, but they kept on changing dates,” said Rubvute.
“They set the 20th and 30th of June, but still could not honour their promise. We finally agreed on the 8th July, but, still there was no money and that is what angered us as workers.”
As of late yesterday afternoon, the workers said they had not received their salaries.
Recently, Chinese companies have come under the spotlight for allegedly applying unfair labour practices.