FORMER Ziscosteel workers would have to wait a little longer before they could access their once-off three months’ salary payment from new employers New Zim Steel because of legal hurdles.
Essar Africa Holdings Limited board director Firdhose Coovadia said processing of the salaries was not a simple matter that could be completed overnight, but involved a lot of legal processes and was also tied to issues involving production.
“With regard to your query about the three months’ salaries promised to workers, please understand that this is part of a process of closing out employee contracts with Ziscosteel; finalising arrears owing to each employee by Ziscosteel and then onboarding employees into New Zim Steel in phases, given that the initial 24 months of the project will be a construction project,” he said.
Coovadia added that the construction process that would see Essar rip apart what was once the giant steel company to build a new iron and steel plant could not be divorced from the payment of salaries to workers and other debtors. It cannot be viewed in isolation; it is dependent on other things happening to ensure a smooth transition.
“This is part of a legal process which is in accordance with the Labour Act in Zimbabwe and as such, needs to be dealt with in a manner which addresses all the requirements as set out in the law.
“We are hopeful that this process will be completed in the near future,” said Coovadia without giving dates. He was responding to workers’ concerns that payments they were promised last month may not come.
The workers were last paid an eighth of their salaries by Ziscosteel management in April. Some workers were paid as little as $50.
“We have received promise after promise.
“In fact, President Robert Mugabe came here and officially opened the plant nearly three years ago, but nothing has moved. We are tired of being lied to,” an employee who declined to be named said.
The workers’ spokesperson Benedict Moyo, who also chairs a grouping of three unions at New Zim Steel, could not be reached for comment as he was attending a series of meetings on the way forward.