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Adam Bede says protesting workers paid to tarnish company image

ADAM Bede Manufacturing have responded to the story of the over 40 workers who caused a scene at Southerton Police Station on Tuesday.

Below is their version of events, as articulated in a statement by their Communications Department.

THIS statement follows the unfortunate, regrettable and sponsored disturbances that took place at our workshop last Tuesday, leading to a story in the H-Metro, indicating that 13 workers at Adam Bede Manufacturing were arrested for protesting against poor working conditions.

Some unnamed workers at our company were quoted making false claims that they were owed salaries from April 2021.

As Adam Bede Manufacturing, we find the actions by some unruly elements within our workforce as counter-productive at a time when most companies are struggling to stay afloat due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the whole world.

We wish to state categorically that at Adam Bede Manufacturing, we value the sterling work by our workforce and as such we have always treated our workforce with uttermost respect through adequate salaries that we always pay in time.

It’s unfortunate that the misplaced actions by 19 unruly elements within our hardworking workforce have been blown out of proportion by some people seeking to sow seeds of division in our company.

The truth of the matter of what actually transpired is as follows:

On January 5, 2022, our general manager, Bradley Tatenda Mberi wrote a letter instructing CBZ Bank to pay 80 percent of our workforce.

This was advance payment up to the end of January 2022 to cater for school fees and other essentials. Their December salaries had already been cleared.

The remaining 20 percent, constituting about 19 workers who had been on paid leave for two months, were not at work. They were on paid leave on their request, but their November and December salaries were fully paid.

These 19 workers were scheduled to start work on January 17, 2022 and so we were not obliged to pay them January salary advances, like the other workers.

We have payment schedules, bank statements and even conversations to show that, indeed, we made all the payments mentioned above.

In addition, the workers confirmed to police officers from Southerton Police Station that we don’t owe them any outstanding salaries. Therefore, the claims that we owe our workforce salaries from April 2021 are totally false.

We know that there is a third hand trying to incite the workers to revolt against the owners of the company and this issue is being dealt with by relevant authorities.

Regarding the disturbances at the company factory, our general manager went to the premises on Tuesday with two police officers so that he could attend to the issues that were being raised by the workers under the watchful eyes of the police.

This was because the workers were threatening to turn violent. These 19 workers came to the workplace during the day yet they were supposed to report for work at night. They demanded that they wanted to be put on day shift.

The manager addressed them in the presence of the police, telling them that due to Covid-19 restrictions, the company had been ordered not to crowd people in the workshop. This is how the idea of day and night shifts came into effect.

This was a Government directive that we should de-congest the workplace. That is when we sent some of the workers on paid leave. We now had night shift and day shift to de-congest the factory.

For us to apply for exemption to continue operating from the Government, we had to prove to the Government that we had indeed de-congested the workplace. We did that in compliance with the Government directive.

Unfortunately, when our manager explained this, some of the workers did not appreciate what we were trying to do to ensure that they continued working.

When these workers came to the company premises, they then refused to go on night shift. They demanded to go on day shift. The manager explained to them that workers can’t tell the management how to run the business.

That is when they started being violent, singing and intimidating other workers who were working in the factory.

In the presence of police, they forced themselves into the factory and they were warned that they were breaking the law. They were disrupting production through their disorderly conduct.

They ignored the advice and even threatened to burn the factory. The police officers went back to Southerton Police Station to report that the situation was getting out of hand. And so, it’s not us who instructed police to arrest them.

We had brought police so that we could speak to them amicably. Police was watching them as the situation was escalating.

We then filed a case of disorderly conduct against them so that police could protect our premises. We opened a docket which shows this was a case of disorderly conduct.

One trade unionist came and addressed, ordering all workers to go to the police station. In the commotion about 30 day shift workers joined the 19 who were refusing to go on night shift.

The idea was to create a scene at the police station but police managed to handle the situation very well. The charge was not against all workers.

It was about the 19 that had threatened peace at the company premises and disrupted production.

Police made it clear the case was against the 19 and so the 30 were told to go outside the police station because they had not committed any crime. The issue is now with police.

Today, the workers were told that since their issue was about not wanting to go on night shift, they were given the opportunity to go on day shift.

Still they refused. They are now saying the company should first withdraw its case with the police.

It’s clear these workers got themselves arrested due to the disorderly conduct and it’s clear the issue was never about poor working conditions.

Fortunately, as Adam Bede Manufacturing, we are on top of the situation and we will address this issue to its finality.

Adam Bede Manufacturing (PVT) LTD

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