Hundreds of women in western Zimbabwe who have waged a week-long sit-in at Hwange Colliery Co. Ltd. (HCCL), demanding unpaid wages for their husbands who labor in the company’s coal mines, say they are set to march to tourist-packed Victoria Falls. There, says the women’s spokesperson, Thokozile Ncube, “we will tell the world everything about the company and how our government has failed us.”
Carrying placards reading, “Five years no pay, but going to work everyday,” and “Enough is enough,” the women say they are not satisfied with the response of a former government minister who spoke with them Friday and said he would take their concerns to the president. The women vowed that if their husbands do not receive the wages owed since 2014 by February 15, they will march to Victoria Falls, some 62 miles to the north.
They also demand the resignation of the company’s CEO, who they say has not fulfilled a 2016 High Court order compelling management to pay workers’ back wages.
The women launched their action January 29 with a peaceful rally and have remained at the company’s headquarters, despite heavy rains. Last week, the National Mineworkers Union of Zimbabwe (NMWUZ) provided a tent to shelter the women.
Several thousand miners work in open-pit mines extracting millions of pounds of coal each month for use by power stations and in iron and steel smelting. Most of the workers live in houses in the mining village.
According to news reports, HCCL has been paying miners 50 percent of their salaries since the beginning of 2016 and last June, the company paid 7 percent of the employees’ 2014 outstanding wages.