Chinese company to pay $107k in salary arrears


GWERU — An arbitrator has ordered Chinese-owned smelter, Nelson Holdings in Gweru, to pay 69 workers salary arrears of $107 000 accumulated as a result of underpayment from last January to September this year.

Workers took their employer, a ferro-alloy smelter, to court after several failed attempts to negotiate a settlement.

Disgruntled employees said in their submissions that they were paid a monthly basic salary of $193, a salary below the industry stipulated $220.

Company lawyer, Darryl Phiri argued that the workers had mistakenly been paid wages for the mining industry and not for the ferro-alloy Industry.

Nelson had applied for exemption to the National Employment Council (NEC) for the ferro-alloy Industry to be exempted from paying the minimum wages which workers said were the shortfall.

In a letter to the arbitrator, Matthias Ruziwa, Nelson said the company was “taking this matter seriously and we are doing everything we can to resolve the issue”, but wanted to wait for the NEC response to its application before making payments.

In his judgment obtained by The Source, Ruziwa said the arbitral court had been taken for granted and that the Chinese company acted arrogantly when it applied for exemption after the arbitral hearing on August 5 this year.

“Having taken into full account the facts and evidence placed before me and the parties, it is hereby determined and awarded that claimants should be paid NEC minimum wages for the period January 2013 to September 2014. The total amount payable to 69 claimants is $106 693 00,” Ruziwa said.

The general secretary of the National Union of Metal and Allied Industry in Zimbabwe, Henry Tarumbira, said the union will take measures to force the Chinese employer to pay.

“It is our duty to see to it that workers’ rights are protected and we have since taken uncompromising steps in ensuring that the employer abides by the arbitral award,” Tarumbira said.

— The Source