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Zimbabwean union confronts Afrochine Smelting over workers’ rights violations

23 September, 2021The National Union of Metal and Allied Industries of Zimbabwe (NUMAIZ), affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union, is protesting workers’ rights violations at Chinese-owned Afrochine Smelting that include unfair termination of contracts for 33 workers, non-payment of wages, and the beating up of workers by supervisors.

According to a shop steward who works at Afrochine, over 1,500 workers are employed at the ferro chrome plant which is about 75 km from Harare.

“We are working in fear with no job security and being humiliated every day. You are beaten up by supervisors who are Chinese nationals, and if you report to the police, you will be unfairly dismissed before the conclusion of the case. With fewer jobs available in Zimbabwe, workers are suffering in silence. We are supporting the call for strike action against Afrochine to stop the workers’ rights violations,”

says the shop steward who witnessed some of the beatings.

Conciliation efforts at the National Employment Council of the ferro alloy industry – a social dialogue platform – failed as the ferro chrome smelting company did not show up at a meeting on 22 September. In the absence of dialogue, the union says it will take the grievances to the courts.
Henry Tarumbira general secretary of NUMAIZ says:

“The union will not stand by and watch while its members are abused. We are fighting to stop the unfair retrenchments and harassment and will take necessary action as provided by the labour laws to demonstrate against the violations as well as go to the courts to stop the abuses. Workers are continuously exposed to poor working conditions while health and safety standards are ignored. There is also wage theft and under payment of wages. IndustriALL affiliates in the country will be mobilized and are expected to join the strike and other actions in solidarity with the workers at Afrochine.”

Paule France Ndessomin, IndustriALL regional secretary for Sub Saharan Africa, says:

“The management at Afrochine must respect workers dignity, national labour laws and international labour standards. We commend NUMAIZ for standing up for workers’ rights and decent working conditions.”

Afrochine is a subsidiary of the world’s biggest stainless steel product manufacturers Tsingshan Holding Group which trades on the London Metals Exchange. China is the largest importer of chromium and other metals which are key raw materials for its steel industries, and some of the chrome is mined in Zimbabwe which produced over 300,000 tonnes in the first quarter of this year.