MUTARE– A labour union representing a section of diamond workers, the Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Workers Union (ZIDAWU) has waded into the raging diplomatic tiff roused by the Chinese embassy accusing the Zimbabwe Congress of Trades Union (ZCTU) of a campaign to damage the image of the Asian nation.
ZCTU recently publicized poor working conditions at a Norton-based ceramic tiles manufacturer, Sunny Yi Feng prompting the Chinese embassy to issue a statement accusing the labor union of attempting to damage good Zim-Sino relations.
In a statement, ZIDAWU said it shared the same sentiments with ZCTU, due to a legacy of labour violations by Chinese investors, across different sectors including mining.
“To say the Labour body has a hidden agenda is a low blow by the Company,” read part of the statement by ZIDAWU.
“The bottom line, is the Chinese employers are not complying with the labour laws and that is all that as worker’s representative we demand.
“As Zimbabwe Diamond and Allied Workers Union, we would like to put it on record that we share the same sentiments with ZCTU. We will not watch from afar while the labour movement gets to be unjustifiably politicized,” read part of the statement.
ZIDAWU President Cosmas Sunguro, said the call for the Chinese Embassy to provide strong monitoring of operations by its investors was not motivated by any sinister agenda but protection of labour rights.
ZIDAWU is a registered organisation working with mining employees and mining affected communities.
Sunguro said it was founded by some former workers of Anjin diamond mining company who had experienced ”hardships in violations of human and labour rights.”
“Labels like ‘authors of illegal regime change, saboteurs of national socio-economic programmes, treasonous and all that misnomer is old fashioned,” he said.
Anjin mines in Marange diamond fields, after bouncing back in 2020, having been part of six companies which also included Mbada Diamonds that were consolidated into the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC).
Accusations of ill-treatment of workers by the Chinese in Chiadzwa, were numerous including physical torture of workers, long working hours and at worst some workers had dogs unleashed on them for minor misdemeanors.
“Therefore, the ruthlessness, ill and derogatory treatment, under payment of wages, working long and unpaid overtime, poor accommodation facilities and food are not conditions known through hear say but experience. Thus, the allegation that ZCTU is uninformed in its claim against the Chinese employers must fall away,” he said.
ZIDAWU lashed at this brazen attempt to get the labour movement unjustifiably politicized over what the Chinese claim “distorted revenge seeker with hidden agendas” as disingenuous to the truth.
It said in light of this arrogance, ZIDAWU said it would initiate a national and global campaign using the Zimbabwean labour law and ILO standards to seek compliance from Sino investors.
On June 17, the Chinese embassy and Sun Yi Feng Public relations officer, Mr Mukumba accused the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and its General Secretary Mr Japhet Moyo of tarnishing the image of the Chinese investors.
In their statement they said, “The publications carrying stories from uninformed sources who, rather than being constructive, are more destructive to the image of the company.
From the onset, the reports have been influenced by actions of conspiracy as a result of revenge distortion,” the company’s public relations officer, Alex Mukumba said.
He expressed disappointment saying ZCTU had been allowed access to the company’s premises on mutual understanding not knowing the labour body had a hidden agenda.
ZCTU is under fire for petitioning the Chinese ambassador to Zimbabwe, Guo Shaochun to whip its members to order for violating labour and human rights.
This was in the wake of a controversial labour incident in which a Gweru Chinese businessman, Zhang Xueun shot and injured two employees–Wendy Chikwaira and Kennedy Tachiona–during an ill-fated wage dispute.