By Tinashe Mungazi
Makomo Resources’ workers yesterday staged a sit-in protesting over two months salary arrears and temporarily brought production to a halt.
The company is currently the leading coal producer in the country producing around 300 000 tones per month with a staff compliment of 400 employees.
According to sources close to the development around 350 workers on the morning shift staged a sit-in at their workstations in protest over delays by the company to pay them.
“These guys have our two months salary that’s for October and November and today they decided to give us 40% and they say it’s 70%. So the workers stopped working to get clarification arguing that the company was no longer honest and they should pay us all our monies. The GM was not there but when he came in he ordered the security to get us all outside the gate without addressing us,” said one worker.
Workers told CITE that efforts to engage the company general manager, Kudakwashe Nyabonda following the job action resulted in their ejection from their workstations to the gate of the premises.
“All we want is for management to make it clear to us as workers on why they gave us 40 percent instead of 100 percent. We still don’t know why we were sent out of the gate, because we have queries and while we were waiting for the management to get clarification we were sent away from our workstations,” said another worker.
Following their ejection, Nyabonda is alleged to have instructed workers on the night shift to report for duty immediately.
However, it was not clear if they had complied with the directive.
Workers representative, Doubt Munkombwe refused to comment on the development and referred questions to the general manager.
Though efforts to get a comment from Nyabonda were fruitless, an official who spoke on condition of anonymity said the failure by the company was a result of delays in payments by Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC).
“The company is owed a lot of money by ZPC for the non-payment of coal deliveries to its power stations, which money is required to pay salaries and to cover production costs. So, these delays have had an effect on the company’s ability to meet its salary obligations. There have been frantic efforts to push for the payments through various forums that include engagement with the responsible ministry. So the company only managed to pay out 40 percent of the salaries owed because of that issue with assurances that it would pay the rest once inflows have improved.”
The lowest paid worker is current receiving around 17000rtgs.
Workers said the company was not only failing to pay them but had also since removed a monthly food hamper they were given to cushion them.
“We want our two months salary we resume work cause they are always giving empty promises they had promised 100% for October last Friday and today they put this money that frustrated people. They also cut the food hamper and they are not paying us on time. They are busy saying ZESA is not paying but we got a lot of cash sells and wagons loading low ash and coking coal. The company is making a lot of money they even hired experts and they are paying them a lot of money like USD 7000 to USD10000 food and accommodation including air tickets to and from S.A. but to us local they don’t want to pay.”
The workers accused the company of neglecting their welfare while choosing to divert money to invest in projects such as gold and energy.
The company is eyeing to enter into gold mining at one of its claims in Mutare and Kwekwe while plans for the construction of a coal power station and solar energy plant are reportedly underway.
At the time of publishing, the workers had still not reported for duty with reports that the company had not sent buses to pick them up while Nyabonda had still not responded to questions sent via text.