Richard Muponde, Gwanda Correspondent
VUMBACHIKWE Mine has fired 214 workers and evicted them from company houses for allegedly going on an illegal strike last year.

The development has riled politicians in Gwanda.

Workers went on strike in November last year demanding salary arrears dating back three years and better working conditions.

The management responded by firing those who participated in the strike and eventually gave them eviction orders to vacate company houses by February 7.

Gwanda Central MP Cde Edison Gumbo, in whose constituency the mine falls, had to intervene on Friday to stop the evictions.

Speaking at the company premises, Cde Gumbo accused mine management of unfair labour practice.

“This is not fair. These people have been left destitute because even if they leave their employment they can’t get their pensions as the company hasn’t been remitting pension contributions to the Pension Fund. It was also not remitting money to their medical aid and funeral policies. Today they are evicting these people into these rains. That’s inhumane,” he said.

Cde Gumbo said the matter has been taken to Government so that it intervenes to save the employees.

“I will fight for the rights of the people in my constituency. What the company is doing is unfair labour practice. These workers are living on a $21 salary instead of $350 and it’s not sustainable. I advised all the dismissed workers to register their names so that I can take the matter to Cabinet,” said the legislator.

The president of the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, Mr Enos Sithole, who visited the mine on Friday, accused Vumbachikwe of failing to remit workers’ subscriptions to the union.

“In spite of that, the union will represent its members. There were no hearings which were done when the workers were dismissed and the subsequent evictions. The employees were protesting against the mine’s failure to remit 15 percent of their deducted salaries towards pensions to the Mining Industry Pension Fund, NSSA, Medical Aid and funeral policies,” said Mr Sithole.

Efforts to get a comment from the company’s human resources manager, Mr Celestine Mhere, were fruitless as he was said to be out of office.

The company consultant, Mr Raymond Smethwick, declined to comment saying he feared being misrepresented if he spoke on the phone.

“We have learnt from the past that speaking to reporters over the phone does not help us. What I can do is to ask you to e-mail your questions and we will look at them and come back to you in due course,” he said.

Vumbachikwe is run by Duration Gold and the majority shareholder, Clarity Capital, is a British-based company.

The mine is located 20 kilometres from Gwanda town.

Last year, the Minister of Rural Development, Promotion and Preservation of National Culture and Heritage, Cde Abednico Ncube, who also superintends Matabeleland South, castigated the mine for refusing to contribute to the Gwanda Community Share Ownership Trust.


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