Matebeleland North principal labour officer, Evans Makusha addresses Sinohydro workers on Friday | Image Credit: CITE
Workers at Sinohydro Corporation which is working on stage 7 and 8 expansion project at Hwange Thermal Power Station have called for an end to the harassment and ill-treatment they are suffering at the hands of the Chinese contractors.
Over 1 000 workers from Sinohydro and its subcontractors have from Wednesday been staging a sit out protesting low salaries, poor working conditions and lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
In 2020 the company came under the spotlight after reports of abuse of workers which involved locking them up and restricting their movements, feeding them substandard food, physical and verbal assaults surfaced.
The Chinese firm was also accused of violation of labour laws and human rights abuses after dismissing workers without following procedures.
However, the company justified its actions, saying it needed to keep its workforce at the workplace to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.
The workers aired their grievances during a feedback meeting with Zimbabwe Construction Workers Union secretary-general, Nicholas Mazarura on Friday. One of the workers said:
We want to find out if the issue we raised of abuse of workers by the Chinese was addressed.
On a daily basis, we are subjected to inhumane treatment which includes insults and physical abuse.
Can you imagine that it’s dangerous to be seen standing or taking a break by our Chinese supervisors as you are likely to get a harsh reprimand? Sometimes you can be assaulted or fired on the spot.
The irony of it all is that these people are allowed to treat us like this but if a person reacts in defence it’s considered an offence that can land you in jail. They are more at home than us the owners of the land.
Another worker said they had on several occasions notified officials from the ministry of labour and management through their workers’ committee of their grievances but no action was taken. The worker, who identified himself as Sam, said:
The guys from labour are aware of these abuses so is management which includes ZPC but nothing has been done about it.
At one point we protested strongly against moves by management to hole us up for months on end under the veil of COVID-19.
Unfortunately, we failed to get redress as they used a divide and rule strategy where workers were threatened with dismissal.
So for 3 months, we were caged like prisoners going through ill-treatment all in the name of securing our jobs and completing the project.
Meanwhile, the company has engaged the workers promising them to address their grievances as it moved to avert further delays to the completion of the billion-dollar electricity project.
Source – Pindula News