BULAWAYO – Hundreds of workers at Rubber Products Limited who have been asked to take an early Christmas break after going for months without pay are picketing company properties demanding payment of outstanding wages.
The workers complained that while company directors and their families enjoyed affluent lives, workers cannot even pay school fees for their children, pay rent or buy food and face a bleak festive season.
When approached by the Daily News, the angry mob chorused a sad story.
“We have not been paid for 18 months,” one worker said.
“In the past our employer used to pay us a petite $50 after six months. Our employers used to pledge that they would to pay us. But now our children are no longer in school, we do not have money to pay for rent and to buy food but they are living large.”
Last week, the company asked its workers to take an early Christmas break but its workforce has since gone on to stage demonstrations.
“They said we should go home last week but we are not leaving until they give us the money that we have been working for since we are uncertain whether the company will open next year.
Some of the workers charged that company directors claimed they would remain behind looking for money to pay them but workers were adamant.
“We want to show them that we are not children,” they said.
The workers said they had taken the matter to the Labour Court but their efforts had been fruitless as the court deemed it as not requiring urgent attention because the respondents contested the allegations.
“We have been to the Labour court before but the matter is still pending and they lied that they pay us when in actual fact they do not,” the workforce said.
Workers also claimed the board of directors decided to form another company from a profit-making department at Rubber Product at the expense of neglected employees.
They said company directors formed another company called Awaited Investment when they had realised the department had been generating more profit than Rubber Products.
When Daily News sought for comment, company directors assigned a security guard to inform the paper that they did have a comment to make on the worker’s allegations.
Workers however, said management’s refusal to talk was a sign they are hiding something.
“They are hiding a lot that is why they do not want to talk to you and there are answers they do not have,” they said.