Locals employed by a Chinese miner, Yakutsi Investment, have alleged abuse at the hands of their employer, with the National Union of Mines, Quarrying, Iron and Steel Workers of Zimbabwe (NUMQISWZ) escalating the issue with the National Employment Council for the Mining Industry (NEC).
Six of the company’s workers – Knowledge Mukomba, Spencer Denhere, Chelsani Nyathi, Stanley Muleya, Isiah Munkuli and Lovemore Mugande – alleged that they left the mine on Saturday to visit their families, but on their return last Monday, they were ordered to pay US$20 for COVID-19 tests.
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They also accused their Chinese boss He Chisheng Mike of treating them like slaves by locking them inside the mine compound and not allowing them to go outside the premises.
A company representative who preferred not to be identified told NewsDay that the company will refund the workers the money they would have to paid as COVID-19 testing fees. He said:
We will need proof to show that such an amount has been paid. The fence and the locks have been removed and now they can walk freely.
Our suggestion is that once a week, we will allow workers to go to town, but not all of them.
NUMQISWZ legal and education training officer Shadreck Pelewelo said it was wrong for the company to force its workers to pay COVID-19 testing fees.
Pelewelo also said Yakutsi Investments violated the governing code by forcing workers to stay at mine accommodation, which has no ablution facilities.