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Hwange Colliery turns screws on ex-workers

Some of the affected ex-workers, some who retired 12 years ago, have been staying in the company houses waiting for the full payment of their terminal benefits. They were expecting as much as US$20 000 each, but the company has responded through power disconnections and eviction attempts.

Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) has been accused of cutting off electricity supplies to houses being occupied by over 300 of its former employees in a bid to force them to vacate the properties.

HCCL started pushing for the evictions of its ex-workers in 2022 following a court order, but the former workers have been refusing to vacate the properties citing outstanding terminal benefits.

The coal mining company won a civil court order to evict the ex-employees.

Some of the affected ex-workers, some who retired 12 years ago, have been staying in the company houses waiting for the full payment of their terminal benefits.

They were expecting as much as US$20 000 each, but the company has responded through power disconnections and eviction attempts.

The former workers said they were shocked when the company claimed to have paid them in full using the local currency following monthly installments of about US$300, which they were receiving in 2022.

In the latest developments, Greater Hwange Residents Trust coordinator Fidelis Chuma said they were disturbed as residents’ representatives by the company’s actions to arbitrarily disconnect electricity to households without a court order.

“The company should use legal means to evict its ex-employees rather than using dirty tactics of disconnecting electricity,” Chuma said.

“More than 300 people have been disconnected from electricity and this intensified soon after the 2023 elections and they are targeting mainly ex-colliery workers and tenants.”

Zimbabwe Diamonds Minerals and Allied Workers Union secretary general Justice Chinhema said the issues at Hwange were more of human rights abuses.

“What is so sad is that these former workers worked for many years and were not paid accordingly,” Chinhema said.

“Some were contributing to a housing scheme but the mine failed to remit the payments and the workers are now being sacrificed.

“We have been and continue to ask government to intervene.”

Efforts to get comment from HCC’s public relations manager Beauty Mutombe were fruitless. – (The Standard)

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