By Mark Mhukayesango
GWERU- November 17 2015 – Midlands based Chinese Ferrochrome company has been ordered to pay more
than $36 000 salary arrears for 18 months to 130 employees by
Arbitrator Mathias Ruziwa following months of defaulting payment of
salaries and not effecting salary increases according to the National
Employment Council (NEC), Radio VOP has learnt.
According to labour court papers in possession of Radio VOP, the
Chinese company refused to effect a salary increase in 2014 ,at a rate
which was agreed upon by NEC which cuts across the ferrochrome
The company argues that it could not afford paying the salaries since
the industry suffered depressed world ferrochrome prices.
Early this year the company also laid off over 100 employees after
shutting down furnaces for refurbishment and hired new workers after
The workers represented by the the National Union of Metal and Allied
Industry in Zimbabwe (NUMAIZ) who argue that the workers were treated
unfairly as they were supposed to be duly compensated.
However a legal representatives of Xin Yu , Tavenhave and Machingauta
pleaded with the arbitrator to postpone the decision to effect a
salary increment until the economic situation stabilizes and
favourable for collective bargaining.
“Ordering Xin Yu to enforce the 8,2 percent increase on wages will
simply mean the company will be driven into the graveyard.”
The increment would mean that each worker would be entitled to $3 034 per month.
Arbitrator Ruziwa was not swayed by the plea and awarded the salary
increment saying :”In the absence of the granting of any further
exemption from paying the gazetted minimum wages by the NEC for Ferro
Alloy Industry, this honourable tribunal has no legal basis to allow
respondent not to pay claimants NEC minimum wages,” said Ruziwa.
Xin Yu is still adamant to pay the workers, instead opting to shut down.
“I humbly submit that if the award was given, the company will not be
able to pay ,hence forced to shut down,” said a company
Speaking to Radio VOP, ZCTU Area Organiser, Midlands province, Cotten
Ndlovu said the Chinese companies were taking advantage of the
desperate local workforce; hence abusing them.
“Chinese companies are breaching the country’s labor laws. They are
oppressive,” Ndlovu said adding that government has to regulate their
“Our government needs to do something about these Chinese because they
running down our economy. They need to be policed or else our
membership will wallow in poverty,” he said.
ZCTU accuses Chinese companies in Gweru of abusing workers who have
gone for months without receiving full salaries, with allegations of
intimidation of labor force.
Companies like Jin An, Xin Yu and Nelson Holdings have often been
accused of exploiting employees.
However the country’s rigid labour laws have often come under
spotlight from Confederations of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) as
companies are not allowed to fire workers willy nilly following the
July 17 Supreme Court Ruling which allowed employers to terminate
contracts on three months notice.
Speaking to Radio VOP last week CZI President Busisa Moyo argues that
NEC minimum wages are too high , a situation that has continued to
increase costs of production.
He says this has continued to be a deterrent to investment in Zimbabwe
where foreign companies are sceptical to inject capital into the
“Costs in Zimbabwe are very high than in any other part of Africa.
Costs of electricity are too high and philosophically as CZI have an
issue against businesses being charges such high costs,” said Moyo.
“It just shows you the kind of correction that we need. Then you will
see the cost of production going down,” he added.
NEC minimum wage is $310 and CZI says it should be reduced to $50.
“NEC minimum creates a huge cost base as one needs $310 to get an
employee to come to work. This is a huge disincentive for
we are a market and people should be able to bargain,” argued Moyo.
“We need the NEC to be 50 and the rest become productivity based,” he added