MORE than 100 Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) workers’ wives were brutalised by police yesterday leaving several injured in running battles when they staged a demonstration against the colliery management demanding outstanding salaries and allowances for their spouses.
NQOBILE BHEBHE/RONALD MOYO
HCCL workers have reportedly gone for five months without pay.
The women were reportedly assaulted resulting in two being arrested and four sustaining serious injuries.
Hwange Central MP Brian Tshuma told our Bulawayo Bureau that four women were beaten badly by police and were hospitalised at the Hwange Colliery Hospital.
“Today (yesterday) in the morning, the wives of the mineworkers and other women collectively walked about 20km from the town centre to Hwange Colliery where they staged a peaceful demonstration at the general manager’s office,” he said. “However, the board called the police who came to disperse them.
“Some of the women were badly beaten by the police and two of them were arrested and are detained at Hwange Central Police Station.”
Tshuma condemned the beatings and arrest of the women protesters, saying they were unfortunate and unnecessary.
“The blame for the unfortunate incidence lies squarely in the hands of both the state since it is the major shareholder of HCCL,” he said.
“It is the role of the board to play a leadership role and to respond appropriately not just to shareholders, but to their workers as well.
“It is their mandate to deal with customers, society in general and their own workers in a fair and responsible way, therefore as MP, I condemn this incident.”
HCCL corporate communications manager Burzil Dube could not be reached for comment as he was continuously said to be out of office and not available on his mobile phone.
In August, workers also staged protests over non-payment of salaries.
Last week, the coal mining firm reported that it posted a $3,2 million after-tax loss in the first six months of the year ended June 30 and attributed this to a poor cash-flow and high legacy debts.
The company has legacy debts in excess of $140 million.
Sales revenue for the six months was down to $40,4 million from
$51,8 million. Finance costs increased to $1,1 million from $900 000 due to penalty rates on overdue borrowings.
The company has in recent months also embarked on a retrenchment exercise.