Maputo — Workers at Mozambique's largest bakery, "Espiga d'Ouro" in the southern city of Matola, have gone on strike to protest against alleged violations by the company of Mozambican labour legislation.
The strike began at about 08.00 on Monday morning. Since the company's drivers joined the strike, "Espiga d'Ouro" suddenly found it was unable to distribute thousands of loaves to retailers.
The company, easily the most modern bakery in Mozambique and only inaugurated about eight months ago, has the capacity to produce 1.8 million loaves and rolls a day, but any interruption in the distribution can lead to serious losses.
Workers cited in Tuesday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais", said they suffer unjust cuts in their wages. They claim that when bread is left over after distribution, they are blamed and are forced to pay for the leftovers out of their wages.
"Why are we to blame, if the clients don't take all the loaves?", asked one of the workers, speaking on condition of anonymity. None of the workers who spoke to "O Pais" would allow their names to be used for fear of reprisals.
The strikers claimed that the company has, in clear violation of the labour law, has refused to give them written contracts, and forces them to work unpaid overtime.
They say they have informed the authorities of the illegal behaviour of the company, but the Maputo Provincial Labour Directorate has not taken any measures to force the company to obey the law.
Company managers met for several hours on Monday with the workers, but by the evening no consensus had been achieved. The workers want written contracts, a wage increase, legally binding work hours, an allowance for dangerous work, and an end to unjust wage cuts.
Contacted by "O Pais", the company managers refused to make any comment.