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Lobels Workers Stage Demo Over Alleged Sexual Harassment, Low Wages

Lobels Workers Stage Demo Over Alleged Sexual Harassment, Low Wages

Workers at the Lobels Biscuits Belmont plant on Wednesday staged a demonstration at the company’s premises against alleged sexual harassment, nepotism, and low wages among other complaints.

The workers accuse the management of ignoring their grievances for a long time, hence the decision to embark on job action.

The employees accuse the chief operating officer Andrew Dinhidza of employing his relatives and children in most of the senior positions at the company.

One worker who refused to be named for fear of victimisation told CITE that workers are also being subjected to sexual harassment. Said the worker:

We are experiencing quite a number of problems here, ranging from poor working conditions, ill-treatment, sexual abuse, low wages and failure to backdate our salaries from 2020. However, nepotism and sexual abuse seem to have worsened our plight here.

Dinhidza has given all managerial and supervisor posts to his relatives and sons who do not even qualify to occupy those positions. That’s why we are saying he should go.

There is a lot of sexual abuse and victimization here. It’s hard to keep your job because there are too many conditions or else you lose your job.

If they fire you for you to come back they ask you to meet in town for talks so that they ask for sexual favours. We are tired of being used, Dinhidza should go.

Proper Mahachi, who is the former Lobels Biscuit workers union chair, and was reportedly fired for pushing for better working conditions, said:

We were dismissed for knowing our right, we stood for the workers, and we were dismissed without any benefit and pay.

I was fired for engaging other stakeholders like the Gender Commission and the Zimbabwe Federations of Trade Union, because we knew our rights.

I am happy the workers have finally got tired of this abuse and they have stood for their rights.

Zimbabwe Federations of Trade Union (ZFTU) spokesperson Pardon Mangena who was present at the demonstration, said:

We were approached by these workers raising a number of issues. One of the most outstanding issues was that of nepotism, where a whole CEO employs relatives and son, without even advertising the posts.

Promotions are just being done without following proper procedures and most of them do not qualify for those posts.

I am made to believe that since 2020 there has been a huge backlog of salaries and the employer is not forthcoming on the matter.

There are issues of sexual abuse where many women have raised alarm but nothing has been done to address the matter.

Surprisingly the Managing director has failed to investigate all these matters that have been raised here.

It’s sad that such a big company with over 600 workers can be run like a tuck shop.

Mangena also noted that the workers were not happy with the company’s decision to deduct 15 percent from their salaries following an armed robbery that took place.

Lobels lost R16.7 million (about US$1.1 million) and US$80 000 in cash when armed robbers raided its offices in March. | CITE

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