By Kaleen Gombera
HARARE – More than 1 000 Anjin Investments (Anjin) workers have vowed to remain on strike until their salaries are realigned with local diamond industry standards, which they say average $650 for the least paid employee.
The move is said to have crippled operations with information indicating only a handful Chinese workers are still reporting for duty and production is almost at zero. Misheck Mafukwa, Anjin workers committee secretary said the matter was before labour lawyers and would be heard before the courts on Tuesday this week.
The lowest paid worker is getting $235 — less than half of the country’s poverty datum line which currently stands at around $510 — while the highest paid non-managerial staff gets $700.
The employees are also demanding the diamond miner to reinstate vice workers, committee chairperson Tavengwa Chitima, who was dismissed Thursday on allegations of masterminding the strike and giving confidential information to the media.
Anjin, a joint company formed by a Chinese government firm and a Zimbabwe military-linked company, has been embroiled in labour disputes with its workers over poor labour practices and low remuneration since it started operations in 2010.
In the two years, workers have gone on industrial action eight times. The latest strike is the second this month. Munyaradzi Machacha, Anjin board member, confirmed the industrial action accusing the staff of being insincere with their employers.
He said Anjin has been increasing their salaries time after time since February this year, when the company was granted permission to sale their diamonds. “We have been doing the best for them, they are on medical aid and we constructed houses for them. We address every plea of these workers,” Machacha added.
Responding to allegations of victimising Chitima, Machaha said; “Chitima was not fired but his contract expired that is why he left, they have been having salary increments since February but they just do not comprehend.”
Sources who spoke to businessdaily on condition of anonymity however said Chitima was fired because he had failed to convince the workers to accept the company’s 15 percent salary increment.
“In June they promised to increase our salaries but to our surprise it was only increased by 15 percent and Chitima told the workers who did not agree with the increments,” said the source.
“Failure of the workers to agree to the pay rise led to the dismissal of Chitima, he was sent packing with equipped escorts. Since yesterday we have not seen him. Until we see him at work that is when we are going to commence work.”
The workers are also fuming at the company’s human resources personel for folding their arms throughout the wage wrangle. Workers say their employer is ignoring their plight after the Government Gazette revealed Anjin had applied for a commercial airline licence from Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe.
Anjin’s operations have been trailed by controversy. Last month, Machacha said the diamond miner had remitted $30 million in diamond taxes to government since December last year. The firm said this after Finance minister Tendai Biti accused the giant miner of murky dealings and failing to declare earnings to Treasury.
“He must tell the nation where the money we gave to Treasury is,” said Machacha. Machacha said Anjin is up to date in terms of remitting royalties and taxes to Treasury. Daily News