WORKERS at the troubled former Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, Ziscosteel – now NewZimsteel – had their anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs locked in their houses last year when the Redcliff City Council locked out tenants in rental arrears, it has been learnt.
A January report on the state of industries in the Midlands region released by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), central region has revealed the dire state of workers.
Essar, the African unit of Essar Group in November, 2011 agreed to buy 54% in Ziscosteel in a deal worth $750 million, with the government keeping 36% and 10% to be owned by minority investors, but the company is still to resume full operations.
Presenting the report, ZCTU central region chairperson Martin Tazvivinga said had the labour body not intervened, the situation could have seen a health catastrophe for HIV-positive patients who are on ARV therapy.
“Last year city council (Redcliff) locked out tenants in arrears,” the report reveals.
“It was pathetic as some (workers) were locked of (sic) their ARVs.
“It was thanks to ZCTU and Numaz that went to court and managed to rescue the situation.”
The report further noted that schools were attaching property belonging to children of Ziscosteel workers after they failed to pay fees for this term.
The labour body expressed fear that if institutions like schools, hospitals, Zesa and the local authority, including landlords kept pressing on debts owed by the steel making employees they (employees) could end up facing legal action.
“The delay in the Essar deal now haunts us as worker leadership,” the report noted.
According to the report Ziscosteel used to employ 7 000 workers’ but now has a workforce of about 1 300 on its Redcliff plant.