Zimbabwe’s largest meat processor shutting down for 4 months-Workers threaten to camp at factory until grievances are addressed


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Zimbabwe’s largest meat processor, the Cold Storage Company, will be shut down for four months reportedly for repairs, refurbishment and retooling.

The company which was taken over by a “British” investor who promised to pour in US$130 million into the company which has not been operating for the past seven years was supposed to start full operations this month but it has just sent out a memo to its “valued farmers, partners and customers” that is it is shutting down for four months from 1 October to 31 January.

Nick Havercroft the owner of Boustead Beef, which reportedly took over the CSC, today refused to answer any questions from The Insider saying this was a private company, any questions that The Insider had should be directed to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Vangelis Haritatos was quoted by the State-controlled Sunday News as saying operations at the CSC would start soon.

Workers at the CSC head office in Bulawayo, however, said they will not be going anywhere and will camp at the factory if they are not properly briefed about what is going on.

They said they had not received any notice in writing about the proposed shutdown but were verbally told about it by a Hellen Sibanda who said all employees were going on “force leave for an indefinite period starting 1st October”.

“We do not know in what capacity this Helen Sibanda is giving this directive to us.  Helen is not a CSC employee and was never introduced to us,” the workers said.

Sibanda is said to be a human relations officer hired by Boustead Beef.

“Who is this Nicky Havercroft.  We have been seeing him within and around CSC premises and our workplace.  We have on several occasions requested for a meeting where an explanation on the new changes if any would be made and introductions are made.  Such requests for a Works Council meeting have been met with resistance,” the workers asked about the new owner.

“We will not proceed on the said leave for the simple reasons that:

  • “We as workers have jealously guarded CSC assets in its tough times.  We are afraid if we proceed on leave without a clear identity of who is currently in charge of our company, we will lose out.
  • “We are not prepared to leave the assets of our company at the mercy of unknown people.
  • “We are afraid our company may be stripped of its assets in our absence.
  • “We are afraid that our contracts of employment may be abruptly terminated while we are on leave given that currently there is no one whom we can say is rightly in charge of CSC. There is no board of directors for CSC.
  • “We are aware that this is an effort to frustrate every person who has knowledge about CSC

“Given the aforementioned reasons we request for an urgent works council meeting on the 1st of October 2019 to discuss among other issues the issue of who is currently in charge of CSC, the issue of forced leave and the future of the company and our conditions of service.

“Your failure to convene such a meeting will leave us with no option but to go the GMB workers way i.e camp at CSC premises until our concerns are addressed.”

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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