Lobels Fires Over 400 Workers For Participating In Anti-Oppression Protests
Lobels Biscuits has fired more than 400 workers at its Belmont factory in Bulawayo for participating in anti-sexual harassment, nepotism and low wages protests.
The workers staged demonstrations at the factory in November last year demanding the dismissal of the company’s Chief operations officer, Andrew Dinhidza, accusing him of oppression.
They also accused him of sexually harassing female employees at the firm and giving his relatives senior positions at the company, according to NewZimbabwe.
In an interview with Newzimbabwe.com, some of the affected workers said woes started sometime last year when the workers reported the company to the Biscuits Manufactures Industry National Employment Council (NEC) for underpaying them.
Moses Matupise, a former workers’ committee member told NewZimbabwe:
Our problem started when NEC ordered the company to pay the lowest paid worker the statutory US$270 per month.
Prior to the NEC order, some workers were being paid as little as US$ 60 per month.
Workers were also not happy with the company’s decision to deduct 15% of our salaries following a robbery at the company‘s premises in March this year.
It seems the company management was not happy with the workers’ decision to report the chief operations officer to the Gender Commission, Zanu-PF and the police.
Dinhidza and his cousin, who is also a worker at the company, have been sexually molesting female workers.
Actually, five cases of rape have been reported at various police stations for Dinhidza, while his cousin is also accused of raping a female worker.
There are case numbers to prove these allegations.
Thieves broke into the company’s offices in March and stole R16.7 million and US$80 000 in cash during the break-in.
The worker said besides the recommendations of the Gender Commission that Dinhidza should be sacked, he is still in charge.
The company recently wrote letters to the workers advising them of the dismissals and their lawyers are challenging the “unlawful” dismissal.