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Irate Workers Stage Protests in Harare

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Workers at the Zimbabwe Agricultural Society (ZAS), conveners of Zimbabwe’s largest agricultural event, the Harare Show, went on strike today citing unfair labor practices and non-payment of their 2014 bonuses.

The workers chanted slogans and denounced management at the organization’s head office at the Exhibition Park, saying the lunchtime demonstrations would continue until their grievances have been resolved.

Workers’ committee deputy chairperson, Bester Kupangwa, said their grievances include the last minute decision by the management to stop paying 2014 bonuses.

According to Kupangwa, allowances have been slashed by half, while the company will no longer pay school fees for their children and workers could forced to go on early retirement.

While admitting that the economic situation was bad in Zimbabwe, the workers said management had not shown them evidence that the company’s finances were in bad shape.

A worker who declined to be named said the company was making huge monies from leasing shops, stands and markets and as well as hiring out halls and the Arena ground to churches, musicians and various organizations weekly.

“The main arena costs $9,000 per night when the hire it out to musicians like Mtukudzi, where does that money go, on top of that there many churches and organizations that pay for uses of halls and other facilities here where is the money going. We hear all that money is invested outside the country yet we are salaries are being slashes.”

The workers said they ask Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and President Robert Mugabe to intervene if their grievances are not met.

ZAS spokesperson, Heather Madombwe, said management and the workers’ committee were discussing the contentious issues and a statement would be issued when the matter has been finalized.

As the economic situation worsens, more companies are cutting on salaries and benefits while others are going for months without paying workers.

Last week, more than 200 workers at a pharmaceutical company, CAPS Holdings, held their management hostage for hours demanding their salaries, which have been unpaid for 20 months.

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