Thandeka Moyo, Chronicle Reporter
THE Hwange Colliery Company (HCC) which has not paid workers for more than three years is giving workers bricks to sell to raise salaries.
This came out in Parliament on Tuesday and members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare urged relevant ministries to take action immediately.
“We noticed that HCCL has reduced its workers to slaves as they are forced to work under disturbing conditions.
“These workers are now being paid in kind and are given bricks so that they sell and get their salaries from the sales,” said Mr Unganai Tarusenga, presenting their findings.
He said the company which was failing to sell its products expected workers to sell the same products to raise salaries.
“We’ve workers who went on pension in 2009 but up to now, they’ve not received anything,” he said.
Mr Tarusenga said HCCL was making use of contract workers who were paid while the permanent staff had gone for years without being paid their salaries.
“The workers are also not allowed to go for tea breaks and don’t have protective clothing. Workers are not even given time to go for lunch and would only go for lunch after finishing work.
We also met workers who were retrenched and evicted from the company houses because they could not pay rentals and their children are no longer going to school,” he said.
The committee recommended that a commission of inquiry be instituted to check into what is going on at the Colliery and the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
“Some of the workers are not even allowed to go to the toilet when they are working. When they go they are monitored on time taken to go and come back from the toilet.
“If one falls sick, the managers will blame them for seeking medical attention. When we got there, we were told that most of the employees were given protective clothing, but that is not everything that they need,” said Mr Mkandla who is part of the committee.
In response, the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Engineer Tapiwa Matangaidze bemoaned the deliberate violations of the Labour Act by the HCCL.
“The import of the Committee’s report alleged gross violation of labour laws by the three companies, Hwange Colliery Company Limited, National Railways of Zimbabwe and Dete Refractories,” said Eng Matangaidze.
He said labour inspectors together with designated agents from Transport, Energy and National Employment Council will move immediately to make further inquiries on the issues.
“There is need to conduct inspections in loco to safeguard the rights of employees and promote fair labour standards,” said Deputy Minister Matangaidze.
HCCL recently admitted insolvency and is struggling to secure working capital, which has seen its output dropping to a record low of about 30 000 tonnes per month from a peak of 300 000 tonnes.