TWO mine workers at the Fools Investment Mine in Hope Fountain, which is just outside Bulawayo, were last Saturday assaulted by their Chinese employer after they demanded payment of their outstanding wages.
Their employer, Zhong Yi Zhang allegedly owes workers’ wages backdated to July last year.
Some of the affected workers, who spoke to Southern Eye, but refused to be named, said they feared victimisation.
They alleged that Yi Zhang is abusing them.
“These guys are just beating people; yesterday (Saturday) he (Yi Zhang) assaulted two workers.
“We made a police report at Waterford in Bulawayo, and the Chinese rushed to Hillside Police Station in a bid to block any legal action against them,” one of the mine workers said.
“Two people were assaulted, after several workers gathered to demand their salaries which are outstanding from July last year.
“The workers were asking for a written agreement on how they will recover their outstanding money. Those who were assaulted are Constan Masa and Tatenda Mangena,” he said.
As a result of beatings, Mangena is said to have sustained injuries on the arm, while Masa was injured on his private parts.
The workers alleged that the Chinese employer pays them any amount that he deems fit, instead of paying their stipulated wages.
Fools Investment Mine manager Thabani Masuku confirmed the incident, adding that it stemmed from a petition which the workers submitted last Friday.
“They were asking for their money and they had submitted a petition saying their concerns should be looked into by January 31 before they take action on the employer,” Masuku said.
“I took the petition to the director, and he said he will look into it. He later sent away the workers who had gathered.
“The next day (Saturday), he assigned some workers to work, but other employees stopped them from performing the duties, saying they must wait until workers’ grievances are addressed.”
Masuku said the Chinese director then started taking pictures and when the workers asked him why he was doing that a scuffle ensued.
“He attacked the workers with fists and later took a shovel which he used to attack one of the workers and injured him on the arm.
“During the scuffle, a security guard fired a shot and the mine director rushed to the office and brought a gun which he pointed at Masa, before calming down and handing it to the guard,” he said.
In their petition, the workers demanded a timeframe for the supply of personnel protective equipment, since they had none.
They also demanded backdated pay to July 2020.
Other demands included provision of information on pay dates, and that their salaries must be paid in US dollars.
National Union of Mines Quarrying, Iron and Steel Workers of Zimbabwe regional officer Abraham Kavalanjila confirmed the incident.
“We condemn this barbaric act by these employers. The law has to take its course. No one is above the law. We will not allow such behaviour targeted at workers. There must be no racial discrimination, the Labour Act is clear.
“As a union we will work 24 hours a day and seven days a week until this matter is resolved in terms of the law,” Kavalanjila said.
Zhang’s spokesperson Han Le’s phone was not reachable.
Bulawayo Police spokesperson, Inspector Abednicho Ncube referred Southern Eye to national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi who was not picking calls.