Green Fuel workers protest poor conditions

Workers at Green Fuel, the company, which has gone into partnership with government to produce ethanol in Chisumbanje, have claimed they are working under deplorable conditions with no overtime and no benefits.

ZEWU official Angeline Chitambo
ZEWU official Angeline Chitambo

The workers said they were victimised by management whenever they raised these issues, and so far 30 people had been unfairly dismissed.

It has also emerged that the company is facing more than 20 cases in the labour court arising from unfair dismissal and labour practices.

“Our working conditions are deplorable,” said a worker at the company. “We have no pensions and neither do we have medical aid. We do not have basic allowances, such as housing.”

The workers claim that the company does not have a code of conduct for workers, which has resulted in some workers being fired or punished arbitrarily. Management want the workers to fall under the Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Workers’ Union (ZISMWU), an organisation led by Zanu (PF) activist Edmore Hwarare, but workers want to subscribe to the Zimbabwe Energy Workers’ Union ZEWU.

ZEWU official Angeline Chitambo confirmed the developments at Green Fuel.

“We have held a number of meetings where workers at Green Fuel have tabled their concerns and demands,” said Chitambo. “It appears the company and the workers are not in each other’s good books. The workers are claiming that several cases of unfair labour practice have been going on for years.”

Although management at the company refused to talk to the press, an official at the company confirmed that relations between the workers and management were not good.

“Workers and management are not in agreement over several issues and we hope the problem will be solved. Consultations over the way forward are going on,” said the official.

The Chisumbanje ethanol project has led to controversy over the years, with the community demanding that they should also benefit from the venture.

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