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RioZim bans Decent Work commemorations

Local News
RIO Zim

MINING house RioZim Limited (RioZim), which is under fire for unfair labour practices, has reportedly banned commemorations of World Day for Decent Work at its mines.

The commemorations were slated for October 7. This comes as the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) has called for corporate rescue of the company to safeguard workers’ interests.

“We have to identify legal experts and do the actual filing for corporate rescue as provided for under the Companies Act, and then appoint an expert,” ZDAMWU secretary-general Justice Chinhema told NewsDay on Friday.

Chinhema said some RioZim workers were earning below the living wages after new shareholders slashed salaries and benefits across the board. He said workers were owed two months’ salaries, adding that RioZim had banned commemorations of the World Day for Decent Work which was slated for October 7 at the company’s Cam & Motor Mine in Kadoma.

“We had made a deliberate choice to commemorate the World Day of Decent Work at RioZim because our members are facing a plethora of challenges across all its mines and the recent closure of Dalny Mine and threatening to retrench all permanent workers at (Empress Nickel Refinery) ENR.  We then felt these workers and their families required solidarity in hard times.

“The challenges include late payment of salaries, poor working conditions, disregard of known workplace engagement platforms like the works council, poor safety and health standards, rampant casualisation of labour and the recent termination of employment contracts for all fixed term contracts,” Chinhema said.

He said there was no hope for RioZim workers currently working at Cam & Motor and Renco Mine with their families facing economic distress.

“We are fed up with the attitude and practices by some companies currently operating in Zimbabwe — big and small…we have taken a deliberate position that no more closure of mines under our watch. Any mine that fails to pay its workers on time, or that fails to operate in terms of the law to the extent of affecting communities that survive through them will be inviting corporate rescue which is meant to resurrect failing entities like RioZim,” Chinhema added.

However, RioZim insists it of solid financial standing and does not need corporate rescue.

“Your threat to apply for the placement of the company and its subsidiaries under corporate rescue is unfounded and unwarranted as will be demonstrated hereunder;” RioZim said in a letter to Chinhema dated September 28.

The letter was written by RioZim legal counsel Tawanda Chiurayi.

“It is common cause that you are at law not permitted to apply for the placement for the company under corporate rescue as you are not an ‘affected person’…” RioZim said.

“The company is not financially distressed and at any given time has the capacity to pay its current debts as they become due and payable within the immediate ensuing six-month period.”

In the letter, RioZim confirmed that it was behind on salaries, but stated that the August local currency salary component was paid in full.

The company also confirmed that workers were facing hardships.

As previously reported by NewsDay, RioZim shareholders have injected $19 billion to prop up the troubled resources outfit, which last week reported wide-ranging write-downs for the half-year period to June 30, 2022.

Output at its flagship gold interest fell by 30%, as diamond operation Murowa suspended production shifting to processing of low grade stockpiled dumps.

Group losses worsened to $5,4 billion, from $2,6 billion during the comparable period in 2021, with RioZim’s working capital deficit hitting $13 billion.

RioZim spokesperson Wilson Gwatiringa recently told NewsDay in a letter that shareholders were digging deeper into their pockets to fund salaries and other needs.

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