A long-standing dispute between Ming Chang Sino-Africa Mining Investments, which operates a Lime factory in Bubi district and its employees, has spilled into the labour court after the Chinese owners reportedly fired 34 employees accusing them of engaging in industrial action.
This comes after the employees reportedly confronted the plant management claiming that they are underpaid and are forced to work in the mine shaft without any protective clothing, which exposes them to injuries and other health hazards.
The employees held a series of meetings at the mine premises resulting in the Chinese owners shutting down the plant and ordering the 34 employees not to report for duty.
The Chinese firm also engaged its lawyers from Mutumbwa, Mugabe and Partners who approached the labour court seeking a show cause order and disposal order against the 34 employees, who were cited as respondents.
“On Tuesday, 9th April 2019, respondents engaged in an unlawful collective job action without just cause. The strike has continued to date. The respondents are demanding back-pay, salary increments, transport allowances and company provide accommodation,” read part of the application.
The respondents, through their representatives, the Zimbabwe Diamond Miners Workers Union (ZDMWU) dismissed the allegations, arguing that they did not embark on a strike but were locked out of the premises by the employer.
“How can one be on strike yet the employers are the ones who closed the gates. It is a lockdown, not a strike.
“The employer was not giving the employees duties for 3 days hence they stayed at home.
“The labour officer did not give us any certificate of settlement so the matter can be solved through conciliation,” said Tarisai Mhiko, ZDMWU Grievance Handling Officer.
He said they were planning to take the matter to the National Employment Council as they felt the employer’s management style was infringing on the employees` labour rights.