By Staff Reporter
A MINE workers group has bemoaned the ushering in of Chinese nationals into the country’s investment space, insisting the Asians were among the worst employers ever seen.
In a statement to mark Workers Day weekend, Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Minerals Workers Union General Secretary Justice Chinhema said the country’s Look East policy which ushered in Chinese investors into the country had brought its own nightmares.
Under then President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe turned to Asia for new allies after its western friends had deserted the Harare administration for alleged rights abuses, poll theft and high-level corruption.
Workers in the mining sector however feel the policy has brought more harm than good.
“We are not going to rest in fighting and confronting excessive exploitation of mine workers in Zimbabwe brought about by the Look East Policy,” Chinhema said.
“We are demanding serious investors in the mining sector; not some we currently have who are exploiting workers, looting our resources and destroying our ubuntu in communities that they are operating in.
“(An injury to one is an injury to all). Accidents are happening in Chinese owned mines and concealed against the mining safety and health regulations.
“This is a fight which we are not going to back down on, in demanding mine workers total emancipation.”
The union leader said mine workers had no cause to celebrate Workers’ Day because of their sorry circumstances.
“This day today is supposed to be a day in which workers must be celebrating being a worker, but looking around in our mining sector, there is nothing to smile about,” he said.
He added, “Mine workers today face a plethora of challenges which are well documented despite being a vital cog in our economy.
“They earn far less than their compatriots in the region. Mine workers have for a long time cried against slave wages which they are being given by their employers.
“Mine workers today, despite the sector being labour intensive, are working long hours under very difficult conditions.
“The workplace is no longer safe; several mines have collapsed, killing several workers and families losing their bread winners.
“While the employers are selling the minerals in foreign currency, most mine workers are not getting their salaries in that currency instead.
“Despite creaming outrageous profits for their various mining ventures, workers still at the end of the day receive slave wages,” he said.
Zdamwu said the union was not going to back down in demanding what was due to workers.
“Zdamwu will not tire in demanding what is due to the workers. As Zdamwu, we will not tire in demanding Covid-19 allowances for the workers, if essential services are being awarded Covid-19 allowances, our gallant mining sons and daughters are equally essential service providers who are entitled to at least US$200 Covid-19 allowances.
“If the bible encourages giving to Ceasar what is unto Ceasar, ZDAMWU encourages employers to give workers their dues. That is non-negotiable.
“This year our theme being ‘confronting excessive exploitation of mine workers in Zimbabwe brought by the Look East Policy, black and white cartel & looters towards our independence,” have come at an opportune moment when workers represented by ZDAMWU are fighting tooth and nail to reclaim their rights in the mining sector,” he said.