Cairns Foods workers broke

Over 120 workers who lost their jobs after Cairns Foods stopped operations at its Mutare Fruit and Vegetable factory are languishing in poverty due to the company’s failure to pay their severance packages.

Retrenched workers told The Zimbabwean that the company had not paid them anything since its closure.

“We were given a verbal notice in December last year by our management, but we did not take it seriously. Some of us have worked here for over 20 years and we had nothing to show for our sweat. I can’t afford to pay rent and pay fees for our children,” said Roderick Mukumbe, a long serving employee who lives in Sakubva high density.

Workers accused the company management of being insensitive and contravening the labour laws by not giving them three months notice as required by Labour Act.

A manager who spoke on condition of anonymity said the company had been facing a lots of challenges, including the influx of cheap imports from China, South Africa and Mozambique, obsolete equipment, incessant power cuts and lack of funding to turn around the fortunes of the company.

“The government should come up with a policy to protect the local canning industry from cheap imported tinned products. These have caused the local industry to operate below capacity,” said one senior employee.

Other workers said they were worried about their future.

“We will go through the legal channels until our demands are met. We are human beings and we have families to feed. The company cannot just dump us now. The government should intervene in such cases because we have been exploited,” said one employee who identified himself as T-One.

The Company General Manager refused to comment, saying he was still holding consultations with his superiors.

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