The Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trade Workers’ Union (ZCATWU) yesterday said it was keeping a close eye on Chinese firms in the construction industry to ensure they follow the country’s regulations.
The development comes amid allegations that Chinese firms were exploiting and abusing workers.
Addressing workers employed by a Chinese company, Sagecoa, ZCATWU secretary-general Muchapiwa Mazarura said the union had taken note of complaints from employees hence the decision to ensure the Chinese adhered to the laws.
The workers — who are building a diamond sorting centre at Harare International Airport and working on construction projects in Borrowdale in Harare — told the union they were working without safety clothing and were constantly abused by the Chinese, among a host of other allegations.
“At times if one does not come to work the Chinese supervisors tick that I would have come and then when one is given their pay they say let us share.
“The supervisors also give us stolen nails and other things to sell and give them the money,” complained one of the workers.
Chairman of the workers’ committee Tongai Chapera said if an employee tries to fight for their rights they were immediately dismissed or punished.
The management of Sagecoa was not at the premises when the union visited, prompting Mazarura to tell the workers to stop working until the union had met management to address their grievances.
Mazarura said: “We want the best for people in the construction sector, and we want the Chinese to know how to treat the locals.
“We have a lot of problems with these Chinese, but with local firms we do not have problems as they know what the regulations are and follow them.”
Mazarura said the Chinese have become the biggest employers of construction workers in Zimbabwe, but were not treating workers in accordance with the Labour Relations Act.