Maputo — Workers at Unitrans Mocambique, in the sugar town of Xinavane in Maputo province, have gone on strike, against a sudden 50 per cent increase in their working hours.
Unitrans provides services to the Xinavane sugar plantation and mill, owned by the South African company Tongaat Hulett.
Strikers told AIM that the strike began on Thursday and involves drivers, machine operators, mechanics, and some field workers such as supervisors. The main grievance is that in April the company introduced a new labour regime under which the workers are obliged to work for 12 hours a day.
Previously they had worked eight hours a day - and an eight hour working day is the norm under Mozambican labour legislation.
The strikers are demanding either that they are paid overtime for the extra four hours work a day, or that the previous eight hour working day be restored. “The employer has been promising that the company will return to an eight hour day, but so far nothing has happened”, one of the strikers, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AIM in a telephone contact.
“Today (Saturday) we had three meetings and they were all fruitless”, he said. He insisted that the workers would no longer accept working an extra four hours a day for no extra pay.
“We are demanding a sustainable working regime”, he added. “Last year we worked a regime which gave us the right to two days off a week”.
AIM attempted to contact the Unitrans management and also the trade union committee in the company, but in vain.