IndustriALL affiliates, the National Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers and the Mineworkers Union of Zambia are fighting against African multinational cement company, Dangote, for violating workers’ rights to organize, freedom of association, and for failing to recognize collective bargaining rights.
There are no unionized workers at the Masaiti plant – 9 kilometers outside Ndola – which employs more than 1,000 workers, due to the company frustrating union activity and dismissing workers for joining unions.
Dangote, which has outsourced most its core work, signed a contract with Silondwa Engineering which exposes its union busting: “The contractor shall ensure that its employees are not involved in union activities and strikes that lead to stopping of work”. Further, a worker can be given a final warning for “incitement to strike.”
With no wage increases in four years, workers transferred to Silondwa Engineering and who work under precarious conditions describe Dangote as one of the worst employers. “There is no job security. You can be fired at any time. Recently a worker discharged on medical grounds only got K3000 (US$312) for three years of service”.
Another worker, sexually harassed by one of the managers, has not been promoted since 2014. She is underpaid earning only K1100 (US$114) as a general worker yet qualified for other work. Technicians are poorly paid earning a basic of K2100 (US$218) and expatriate workers earn more than Zambians.
Although the contractor is responsible for allowances and safe working conditions, this is not always provided as personal protective clothing, transportation, accommodation, medical assistance, and housing provisions are inadequate.
Health and safety of workers is compromised as there is neither a clinic nor an ambulance at Masaiti. The dirt road leading to the plant is full of potholes, which means that even if there was an ambulance it will be of little use in emergencies. There is no silicosis examination as is the norm.
Additionally, Dangote is not liable for “injuries or sickness, disease or any death of any person employed by or engaged on behalf of the company.”
Efforts by Joyce Nonde-Simukoko, the Minister of Labour and Social Security, to force Dangote to recognise workers’ rights have not been successful, but unions are not giving up the fight.
Says Paule France Ndessomin, regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa:
It is shocking to learn that Dangote is violating workers’ rights. We call upon the company to stop the abuses.