13 February 2013

Zimbabwe: RioZim Workers Demand Bonuses, Leave Payment

At least 70 workers at Empress Nickel Refinery, a subsidiary of RioZim Limited, have written a letter of demand to their employer seeking payment of their leave days, bonuses and remission of their pensions to the Mining Industry Pension Fund.

Through their lawyer Mr Caleb Mucheche of Matsikidze and Mucheche Legal Practitioners, the workers claim that RioZim has neglected, failed or refused to pay them leave days from 2009.

"The employees' entitlement to leave bonus is enshrined in the company policy. Consequently, the company is owing them leave bonus and they are legally entitled to be paid their money," wrote Mr Mucheche to RioZim.

The workers accuse RioZim of failing to pay them salaries on the dates specified on their pay slips in violation of Section 12A of the Labour Act.

"The employer is failing, neglecting or refusing to remit employees' pension contributions to the MIPF, resulting in some employees retiring empty handed and landing straight into the jaws of poverty. Needless to mention that failure to remit pension contributions is another violation of the Labour Act," wrote Mr Mucheche.

RioZim has also been accused of failing, neglecting or refusing to pay the workers transport and housing allowances that are payable to employees in the mining sector.

"We are hereby instructed to demand that within seven days receipt of this letter, the employer should pay all our clients their accrued leave bonus from 2009 to date and to pay salaries at regular intervals as depicted on the pay slips and in compliance with Section 12A of the Labour Act," wrote Mr Mucheche.

"The employer should promptly remit all the affected employees' pensions contributions to MIPF, clearing all arrears, pay our clients housing and transport allowances, and recognise the workers representatives."

In the event that RioZim failed to comply with the demands, Mr Mucheche said legal proceedings would be instituted against the company without further notice.

In September last year, RioZim was left with a US$13,6 million liability after terminating a toll refining agreement with Swiss firm, AG Centametall.

The termination resulted in Empress Nickel Refinery reverting to being a principal in the refining of matte supplied by BCL of Botswana and marketing the resultant copper, nickel, and cobalt cake to the international market.

RioZim is also embroiled in a dispute with its workers at Renco Mine in Masvingo who accuse the minig giant of failing to pay bonuses.

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