BY XOLISANI NCUBE
Workers at a white-owned commercial ranch in Matabeleland South have accused the proprietors of unfair labour practices and unhealthy working conditions.
According to letters between Drummond Ranch Estate lawyers, Majoko and Majoko Legal Practitioners and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, representing the workers, the farm was reportedly providing unhealthy water to its staff and failing to provide protective clothing.
“The workers are complaining that they are drinking water which comes straight from the dam. Surely, the water is unsafe and unhealthy to drink. It exposes the lives of the workers and their families to danger,” part of the letters signed by one V Mashingaidze on behalf of the federation, read.
Also the federation, which is represented by the Horticulture, General Agriculture and Plantation Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe, alleged workers at the farm did not enjoy holidays because they were forced to work with no extra pay.
“The employer must provide toilets to avoid dangers to the health of the workers. We heard that most of the toilets are full,” the letter added.
The matter, according to the letters, has dragged on since May 2018 and last month, the union requested that an inspection in loco be undertaken under the supervision of officials from the Labour ministry as well as the National Social Security Authority.
In response to the allegation, Drummond, through their lawyers, accused the union of attempting to soil their image by raising the allegations.
“Our clients are well-established in business, have a reputation to protect and will do everything within the confines of the law to remain in business and protect their reputation and goodwill,” part of the letter from Majoko and Majoko Legal Practitioners read.
Drummond stated that on the water issue, management at the farm was also drinking from the same source without any consequences.
“We would have thought, with respect, that you would have afforded our client an opportunity to respond to the issues you raise and importantly, time to address those issues which need to be addressed and rectified,” the lawyers stated.