REDCLIFF – At least 1 000 workers at the ailing steel producer New Zimbabwe Steel (formerly Ziscosteel) had a miserable Christmas holiday after they received paltry salary part-payments ranging between $20 and $50 each.
The lowest paid worker who would normally take home an average $250 per month reportedly received as little as $50 for the festive season.
“I got just $50 from the company as we went for Christmas and you can imagine I could not bring any cheer to my family with that money, especially considering that this year alone we have only received money worth two months’ salary,” a worker who refused to be named said.
The Iron and Steel Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ISWUZ) confirmed the development yesterday and blamed it on delays in concluding the $750 million deal for the takeover of the steel manufacturing firm by Essar Africa Holdings.
“These poor salary payouts which came from Ziscosteel and not Essar are a sign to us as workers that nothing is happening on the ground. We face an even darker future despite assurances from the Industry and Commerce minister (Mike Bimha) that the deal is almost sealed,” ISWUZ said statement.
Addressing delegates at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries breakfast meeting in Harare three months ago, Bimha assured stakeholders that the deal was nearing conclusion.
“Very soon, we will have Lancashire Steel commencing operations more as a signal that things are happening,” Bimha said.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce Kwekwe branch chairman Lee Sithole yesterday implored government to fast-track the revival of the steel producer to save other downstream industries that depended on it for survival.
“It is sad that the workers had to go and face their families with such little money, but this is not a Ziscosteel problem alone as all major companies whose main business is engineering are suffering the same fate. If Ziscosteel remains closed, more and more workers are going to lose jobs,” Sithole said.
“We are ready to go full throttle once the company is open so that we contribute to the economic recovery of Zimbabwe and the GDP.”