16 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Workers Storm Chinese Employer's Home

A Chinese brick maker and building contractor, Sun Yan Ling, was in a quandary yesterday after about 30 workers from his Shanxi Corporation besieged his Mabelreign home demanding outstanding wages and benefits.

The visibly agitated workers spent Friday night outside Ling's home threatening to manhandle him if he did not pay them.

"He has been lying to us that clients of the company have not paid him for work done. We are now tired of his excuses for not paying what he owes us," said Philemon Mhembere, one of the affected workers.

They claimed Ling had shut down the company for the Christmas break on Friday and intended to travel to China for the holidays today [Sunday] without paying them their December wages.

Some of the workers said they were paid only part of their November wages and expected to receive all their money before closure on Friday.

Ling admitted he owed the workers nearly US$40 000 in outstanding wages.

He said he was failing to pay the workers because some of his clients had not yet paid him for services rendered.

"But I am right now trying to raise the money and everyone will be paid by 4pm today," Ling said yesterday.

However, it could not be established if Ling managed to pay the workers before the end of yesterday.

Despite the promise, the workers remained unconvinced, saying Ling had made similar promises in the past, which he had failed to fulfil. "We are giving him the last chance today. If we do not get our money today, we are going to the Chinese Embassy to demand our pay," said another worker, George Madiro.

He claimed that he was injured while on duty in 2010, but received no compensation from his employer.

'Firm doesn't supply safety clothing'

The workers also accused their employer of not providing them with safety clothing and shoes since they worked in hazardous conditions at construction sites.

Ling countered the allegations saying he provided overalls, although he did not supply safety shoes.

Shanxi Corporation, which employs up to 200 full-time and part-time workers, has been in the news before for allegedly ill-treating workers. Ling has denied the allegations. Several Chinese companies have in the past been accused of ill-treating their workers and also for disregarding the country's labour laws.

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