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Suspension of over 300 workers by Tobacco Research Board
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
January 19, 2007

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions is disturbed by the suspension of 300 workers by the Tobacco Research Board after they had given notice to go on strike.

The workers decided to embark on a collective job action demanding a meaningful wage increase. The Board was paying workers a paltry $6 000 and proposed to give the workers a 100 percent adjustment that would have increased the wage to a meager $12 000. The workers gave notice of intention to embark on a collective job action after which 300 workers were suspended.

The chairperson of the Workers' Committee was the first one to be suspended without benefits for inciting workers to go on "illegal" picketing. As far as we are concerned there is nothing called illegal picketing. The suspension of the Chairperson resulted in a work stoppage with workers demanding that he be reinstated.

The Board also had 80 contract workers in its employ whose contracts were promptly terminated bringing the total of affected workers to 380.

The ZCTU greatly deplores such behaviour from employers. The employer allegedly told the workers they were bringing the name of the Board into disrepute but we believe the employer is the one who is bringing the name of the Board into shame by paying employees slavery wages. The Board has been paying its employees wages gazetted for farm workers when it should have been paying the minimum wage as negotiated for by the Zimbabwe Tobacco Industry workers' Union.

We urge management at the Board to normalize the situation and reinstate the chairperson of the Workers' Committee, the suspended 300 employees and the 80 workers whose contracts were terminated.

The employer should also cease forthwith exploiting workers by paying them wages for other sectors that are far below what their sector earns.

W. Chibebe
Secretary General

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