Strike looms at Dinson Colliery

A full-scale strike is looming at Dinson Colliery in Hwange district after workers served management with a 14-day notice.

The workers staged a sit-in outside the company’s premises last week demanding a salary review and better working conditions.

Management was forced to engage the workers after production ground to a halt resulting in the company pledging to pay 35 percent of salaries in United States dollars.

The workers also demanded to be allowed to form workers committees or join unions. Most Chinese run companies operating in the district do not permit unionism.

In a letter of notice to Dinson Colliery manager dated 1 February seen by CITE, the workers through Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union (ZDAMWU) said low wages and unfair labour practices had forced them to act.

“We write on behalf of our members at your mine, and on behalf of all your workers at Dinson, whom have voted agreed and engage us to write to you as we hereby do. We hereby give you 14 days’ Notice effective 02 February 2022, of the intention to embark on collective job action as per requirements of section 104(2a) of the Labour Act Chapter 28:01. For the avoidance of doubt, the collective job action shall commence on 15 February 2022, unless otherwise resolved,” read the letter in part.

The union said workers’ rights were being rampantly violated.

“The issues that the workers are complaining against the employer are as follows; non-provision of PPE (workers reserving the right to embark on immediate withdrawal of labour in light of health hazard), threatening and harassment of workers including banning workers to form a workers committee and join a trade union of their choice, non-existence of Works Council and no clear channel for workers to air their grievances. You would also note that the workers are earning wages below the NEC stipulated rates and all other mandatory statutory boards are not complied with.”

The union expressed concern over the use of police in political parties to threaten the workers against exercising their rights.

“We further note your actions on 31 January 2022 where you used the police and political parties to intimidate the workers from expressing themselves. Your actions and those you hired to threaten workers was illegal and is against the workers’ rights as enshrined in our country’s constitution particularly section 65 as well as ILO conventions.   

Slave trade and free labour doesn’t exist in Zimbabwe anymore and we wish to express strongly that your continued violation of workers’ rights in the name of investment must end. Zimbabwe is a democratic county which respect the rule of law and no amount of victimization will silence the workers from demanding their rights and respect of their interest. It is therefore important that this issue be resolved forthwith.”

The letter which was signed by ZDAMWU secretary-general, J Chinhema was also copied to NEC Mining, Ministry of Labour including their local Hwange office, ZRP Hwange and workers.

CITE could not immediately obtain a comment from Dinson managing director, Benson Xu or its general manager, Frank Gao as both phones went unanswered.

The coke producing company is a division of Chinese giant steel maker, Tsingshan Holding Group.

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