Maputo — 627 workers lost their jobs in 2016 when 13 companies closed down in the central Mozambican port city of Beira, reports Friday's issue of the Beira daily “Diario de Mocambique”.
According to Simao Mortar, the Sofala provincial secretary of the country's main trade union federation, the OTM (Mozambican Workers' Organisation), the main factor leading to these company closures was the tense military situation in the province, which has been the main front in the insurrection waged by the Renamo rebels.
“Most of the workers who lost their jobs were employed by timber companies”, said Mortar, “and the companies closed their doors because of the difficulties of acquiring raw material in the forests, because they were sites of armed conflict”.
Asked whether the workers might now get their jobs back, following the declaration of a truce by Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama, Mortar said “Guns create misfortune, and so we welcome the 60 day truce. But the truce shouldn't be for a limited period. It should be forever, so that families are not plunged into misery”.
He thought that, if the truce held, then not only might the workers who lost their jobs in 2016 be re-employed, but more jobs could be created.
“Reopening those 13 companies depends on the economic and political situation, because there is no way the employers can send workers to collect raw material in areas of risk”, said Mortar. “Our greatest desire is for the war to end for good. Workers should be aware that all work comes from sacrifice, but in places where there is peace and harmony”.
Mortar added that in 2016, OTM affiliates in Beira negotiated 26 labour disputes. In 23 of these cases a solution satisfactory to the workers was found, but the unions lost in the other three.