Ray Bande Senior Reporter
MORE than 70 former Allied Timbers contract workers are camped at the company’s premise in Mutare since early last week demanding their dues after going for an average of 17 months without being paid.
All the employees were later fired by the timber producing company.
The contract workers with their families travelled from the company’s estates in Chimanimani, Gwindingwi, Erin and Stapleford and camped at the company where they are sleeping in corridors and a boardroom at Number 6, Hellens’ Drive, Nyakamete Industrial Area in Mutare.
The contract workers were being paid $110 per month on average before being laid off, thus some are owed close to $2 000 in unpaid wages.
Since they camped at the Allied Timbers offices, the former workers have only been addressed by the human resources co-ordinator, a Mr Mahara who pleaded for patience as the company worked on a plan to pay them.
When The Manica Post visited the Allied Timbers premises this week, the former contract workers expressed anger at the uncaring attitude of company management whom they accused of not giving due attention to their plight.
“This is not fair. The company management does not even care about us. We have been complaining for a long time about our dues and they just ignore us.
“Only after we besieged these premises they then announced to us that they had deposited some money in our accounts. When we went to the bank to check, only a few had a part payment of $345 deposited in their accounts,” said one of the former contract workers who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Another former contact worker who also preferred not to be named for fear of victimisation said he left the company with 10 months unpaid wages after noticing the company’s bleak future.
“I had a chance to renew my contract, but I decided to leave after I had seen that there was no future with this company. At that time I had gone for 10 months without being paid and up until now I have not received anything.
“We will not leave this place until we get what is due to us. They have been taking us for granted for a long time and we are saying enough is enough,” she said.
Mr Mahara refused to entertain questions from The Manica Post referring all questions to the Allied Timbers’ Public Relations Executive, Ms Veronica Gutu based in Harare. However, repeated efforts to contact Ms Gutu on her mobile were fruitless as it went unanswered.
Lack of recapitalisation, antiquated machinery and asset stripping have been cited as the major drawbacks in the company’s quest for revival.