THE Hwange Colliery Company (HCC) last week locked pensioners out of company houses they have been occupying for the past 20 years in a bid to force them to withdraw a case against the company over unpaid gratuities.
The pensioners were forced to sleep in the open after HCC security department workers placed key blockers at the houses following an order by management.
HCC and the pensioners had been involved in protracted talks over gratuities resulting in the former workers recently approaching the Labour Court to force the company to pay them.
However, HCC human resource director Fathi Mpofu denied that pensioners were locked out of their houses although he confirmed that they were involved in talks over gratuities.
“There is nothing like that. They were not locked out. These people are those of our pensioners who did not build their own houses when they were given enough time to do so. We have been patient, humane and tolerant with them,” Mpofu said.
“The law says after three months of going on pension, one should vacate the company house, but we allowed them to stay for more than three years and they are still staying in the houses. No one was locked out. That’s not true,” he said.
Mpofu also said he was unaware that the pensioners had approached the Labour Court saying his company was engaging them on a request they made to have their gratuities increased.
“They came to us and said since they had retired early before their monies had accumulated enough in United States dollars, we as a good company should try and increase their gratuities a bit. This is what they requested us to do and we were still looking into that.
“We are not aware that they have taken the company to the Labour Court. What I only know of is their request to us,” he added.
However, Southern Eye is reliably informed that the pensioners are still locked out of their houses.