THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has demanded fair labour practices from Chinese businesses operating in the country amid public outrage that Chinese businesses are violating the country’s laws and Government is too scared to call them to order.
Chinese company owners in Zimbabwe are accused of assaulting workers, providing poor working conditions and using operations methods that caused immense environmental degradation and pollution. ZCTU particularly wants Norton-based tile manufacturer Sunny Yi Feng to be investigated for violating the country’s laws in the conduct of its business.
ZCTU president Peter Mutasa said that early last month, his organization toured the factory and recorded shocking cases of labour law violations and employee abuse by the Chinese owners.
Workers are exposed to dangerous chemicals which has led to some females collapsing on the factory floors, Mutasa added. When the workers collapse, they are ferried by a front-end loader, an image published by a local news website shows.
After all the abuse, the workers reportedly earn an average of $3,500 which is around US$30 per month. The ZCTU further said workers at the factory’s living quarters stay like sadines, with a room taking up to 16 people, exposing them to diseases such as Covid-19.
Sunny Yi Feng in a response said the claims by ZCTU were unfounded and emanated from people jealousy of its business success. The company said it invited ZCTU in good faith not knowing that the labour body was harbouring “ulterior motives”.
However, the Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe has issued a statement dismissing accusations of labour abuse and other infractions, saying the accusations were baseless. The Chamber said the accusations on its membership were coming from people who hoped to damage the “good relationship” between “our two beautiful nations”.
ZCTU was not amused and challenged ty6e Chamber to a public visit of the Sunny Yi Feng plant to see first-hand how workers were bekng abused there.
“Do you approve disregarding the maximum working hours, minimum wages, leave provisions and disregarding health and safety laws? Do you approve treatment of Zimbabwean workers as subhumans?” ZCTU said. “Do you approve assaulting workers for whatever reasons?”
“You should assist Sunny Yi Feng Ltd to comply with the labour laws and health and safety laws of Zimbabwe. If you think everything is in order, we challenge you for a joint visit Sunny Yi Feng Ltd with media and we all see how workers are living like animals there.”ZCTU
Video footage shared on various online platform’s shows Chinese businesses in the country abusing employees while disregarding environmental and other safety issues which any other business would not get away with.
The Zanu-PF led Government generally does not openly tackle Chinse businesses for fear of upsetting relations with Beijing. □