By Admore Marambanyika
ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has petitioned Labour Minister, Paul Mavima to urgently intervene in the seemingly unending serious labour violations at the Chinese run Manhidze Steel Works project despite concerted efforts by the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trades Workers Union (ZCATWU) to address workers’ problems.
In 2022 ZCATWU engaged the company and labour officers in vain as the union was virtually barred from accessing the company and its employees. Among the issues affecting workers at the USD$1,5 billion Chinese firm, which is set to be Africa’s largest integrated steel plant are underpayments, coercing workers to form a workers’ committee without the participation ZCATWU in direct violation of the Labour Act, non-provision of personal protective equipment and denial of the right to join trade unions.
In a letter addressed to Mavima, the ZCTU acting secretary general, Kudakwashe Munengiwa said the situation was a cause for concern.
“As you might be aware, the Manhidze Project in Mvuma is being constructed by a Chinese company DISCO and our affiliate union, the Zimbabwe Construction and Allied Trade Workers Union (ZCATWU), visited the company on various occasions with the intention or organising and recruiting the construction workers.
“Their efforts to organise and recruit members at the company has been frustrated by the company management which has been giving flimsy excuses to deny them access to the site. “The union even approached the registrar of Labour Ms. Mugomazi and Principal Labour Officer from Gweru Mr. Maburutse, who tried their best to help, but without success,” he said.
ZCATWU is accussing the company’s management of refusing to accept and process stop order forms signed by workers who wanted to join the union while forcing them to join a yellow union.
Munengiwa said Manhidze was in serious breach of both the Labour Act and the ILO Conventions 98 and 87 on the right to organise and freedom of association.
“Hon. Minister, we ask for your intervention in these matters and that ZCATWU be allowed to access the site and conduct its business without being frustrated by the company management. The action by Manhidze will tarnish the image of the country globally as it will be viewed as anti-union. ZCTU will not stand by and watch as an arrogant and overzealous employer plays around with its members,” he said.