UPDATE: Scores Contract COVID-19 At Proton Bread

More than 40 workers at Proton, a Marondera-based bakery are reported to have tested positive for the coronavirus following recent test exercises.

Reports suggest that some of the workers, who include very senior and middle-level managers were already sick when they were tested.

A source who emphasised anonymity said general workers usually get tested when they get sick. Added the source:

What is surprising is that whoever tests positive will just be sent home and business moves on as usual. Moreover, social distance is not maintained at the workplace and in staff buses and offices.

Security guards physically search workers at entry points when they come in and when they go home risking the spread of the virus.

General workers are not happy as the organisation is not paying them Covid-19 allowance. They have tried to negotiate with the employer on several occasions but nothing materialised.

It is reported that managers pay themselves hefty allowances amounting to ZWL$37 000 while a Grade 1 worker is said to be getting plus or minus ZWL$9000.

We got in touch with Mr Elvis Ncube, an official at Proton Bakers, to verify the reports and he requested that questions be emailed adding that he will respond by the end of the day Wednesday. He said:

Can we do it this way, I can give you my email address, you can send me your questions, I can respond in writing… You will definitely get a response by end of day.

When we made follow-ups on Wednesday and Thursday, there was no response and his phone rang unanswered.

Proton Bakery, founded by the late Mr Peter Tselentis in 1961, is one of the biggest bakeries in Zimbabwe. It employs about 1 400 workers across its sites in Marondera (manufacturing), Harare and Bulawayo (distribution sites).

In November last year, the Ministry of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services said the bakery has the capacity to produce 140 000 loaves of bread a day.

An outbreak of the coronavirus at the bakery can have far-reaching effects on the nation which is already grappling with the novel virus.

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