Zimasco In Forced Evicitions

By Mark Mhukayesango

GWERU November 9, 2015-Former Zimasco employees have bemoaned forced evictions from company
premises in Shurugwi , demanding audience with company management over
their grievances, Radio VOP has learnt.
Hundreds of families are believed to be on the verge of homelessness
as the company downsized from 1500 workers to 56 employees as the
chrome giant succumbed to biting economic pressures.
The company has also started forcing the retrenched workers to pay
rentals or face eviction.
Speaking to Radio VOP ,Zimasco employee identified as Sylvester said
the disposed workforce has on several occasions tried to negotiate
their continued stay on the compound to no avail.
“There have been several meetings including meetings about our stay in
the houses until we are paid but all that has come to naught,” he
said.
He blamed the Chinese-run company for being inconsiderate of their plight.
“What is surprising is that these Chinese get money to pay themselves
salaries ,whilst the retrenches are being kicked out,” the former
worker said.
Sources at the company say the company started retrenching workers in
December 2013 , but the rest of workers fired in 2015 were fired in
two batches.
The retrenchment was compulsory.
“Those who could afford to buy the company houses were given the
houses in return of their packages. But most workers could not get
their packages because the company had not been remitting pensions,”
he said.
An estimated 75% of the housing units in Shurugwi belong to the
chrome-mining giant and the company has since started forcing its
retrenched workforce to pay rentals or to vacate the places.
Zimasco spokesperson, Clara Sadomba says the chrome giant’s
operational capacity and its workforce did not tally, hence the
retrenchment.
The company is operating at 40 percent capacity utilisation ,whilst it
had 700 workers.
“Retrenching was the only way out for the company since we have been
struggling to stay afloat,” Sadomba said.
“We did not retrench all at once because we understood our obligations
in terms of packages, but we could not pay them all due to depressed
ferrochrome prices which has grossly affected our revenue. We
therefore gave the workers options to trade off their packages for the
housing they were staying in,but some refused hence the operation,”
she said.
Sadomba could not be drawn to comment on the discontented workers who
are seeking audience with company management.
Zimasco operates Kwekwe, Shurugwi and Mutorashanga furnaces whose
operations have been depressed over the years ,producing 180 000
metric tonnes (mt) of ferrochrome, which is produced from
approximately, 540 000mt of chrome ore.
However, at its peak prior to 2006, the company operated six furnaces,
which produced 210 000mt of ferrochrome, produced from approximately
600 000mt of chrome ore, according to the company spokesperson.
Speaking to Radio VOP, Brains Chakarima a former employee who was
fired in July had no kind words for the management ,saying it was
unfair to be thrown onto the street after many years of services.
“I worked for Zimasco for 20 years and to be treated this way its
unfair. Management does not care about us at because if they did we
could be getting the houses as compensation,” Chakarima said.
“All my life i have worked to please my employers and this is way they
will repay me? I will surely fight to the bitter end,” an emotional 59
year old Chakarima said.
Mining Workers Union of Zimbabwe first vice president Peter Mudzviti
urged mine workers to employees to join trade unions to safeguard
their interests.
The bulk of Zimasco employees are not affiliated to any trade union,
hence they can not be assisted.
“We are here to safeguard the interests of employees ,so we encourage
mine workers to trust us in this regard. The Zimasco issue is
unfortunate ,but we will try and help them regain their houses,”
Mudzviti said.
Meanwhile in a similar development , Shabanie mine last week evicted
its former employees from its houses in Kandodo township.
The former employees were given 48 hours to vacate the premises