Workers ill-treatment haunts diamond mine

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By Nhau Mangirazi

CHIADZWA– Government owned mine Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) at Chiadzwa within Manicaland province is under fire for ill-treating 2000 of its workers denying them labour rights, Mail and Telegraph has gathered.

Disgruntled workers from the diamond mine that had state of art equipment commissioned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa last Friday raised issues of unfair labour treatment, victimisation and denied rights to be represented by workers union of their choice ahead of a gloomy festive season crippled by critical shortages of fuel, basic commodities, cash crunch among other challenges.

One of the workers who refused to be named revealed that they are working long hours and not compensated.

“What we are going through is unfair labour practices. We cannot complain to anyone here as management does not  entertain us when we present our grievances,’ said a worker who spoke on condition that he is not named.

Several workers revealed that they are not allowed to discuss labour challenges as enshrined in the labour act.

“We can not discuss issues to do with overtime, poor working conditions including grading and victimisation that is rampant here.

We are not aware if President Mnangagwa is aware of how we are suffering here. All what happens during visits by senior Government officials is lip service but we are under captive as the working environment is not conducive,’  

Zimbabwe Diamonds Workers Union secretary general Justice Chinhema confirmed that they are planning to take the mine to labour court over ill-treatment of workers.

We are facing challenges with ZCDC as workers are suffering in silence. ZCDC does not respect labour rights. They have refused us access to our members and this leaves us without no option but to take them to labour court,’ said Chinhema.

He added that ZCDC is not immune to the  labour act.

“Workers have grievances that are being ignored and the mine owners do not allow anyone to enter their premises even after applying for permits with valid reasons to go there, ZCDC do not cooperate at all. This affects our members who are being denied the rights to be represented by a union of their choice,’”he said .

Chinhema revealed that ZCDC is flouting labour act sections 4, 6 and 7 that gives workers rights.

“As a mine that officially took over mining of diamonds, ZCDC does not respect labour laws where sections 4, 6 and 7 give rights of workers at workplaces. ZCDC is not immune to such laws and they must lead by example. Why are they denying workers right to meet us so that we can act against poor working conditions?” asked Chinhema.

He revealed that purpose of labour act in terms of Section 2 A is  to advance social justice and democracy in the workplace by giving fundamental rights of employees.

Section 6 talks of protection of employees right to fair labour standards and section 7 (8) makes it unfair labour practices to hinder or obstruct employees to be members of a union that represents them,’ he explained.    

ZCDC corporate communications  manager Sugar Chagonda could not reached for comment at the time of writing as he was said to be out of office.

However, a source revealed that as far as the mine is concerned these ‘allegations are unfounded and untrue’

Although I can’t  make an official comment on the matter, these matters raised are unfounded but aimed at tarnishing the ZCDC operations,’ said our source who cannot be named for professional reasons.  

The mine is owned by Government through ZCDC and has been on international spotlight over suspected human rights abuse that saw diamonds classified as ‘bloody’ amid revelations that several hundred villagers were killed by suspected state security agencies manning operations for several years.

Government has denied the allegations besides some Non-Government Organisations exposing human rights, murders of civilians at the diamond mine.

However, just few days after President Mnangagwa officially handed over state of art equipment for Chiadzwa operations, workers have raised allegations denting the mine operations internationally by ‘violating labour rights’