Workers at Sino Hydro State Company which is constructing the 120MW Itezhi -tezhi hydroelectric power plant have complained of abusive language and beatings by some Chinese supervisors.
Some workers at the U$250 million hydroelectric construction project said they suffer regular beatings and that the Chinese supervisors reduce working hours on their time cards, delay their pay and subject them to poor safety conditions.
The workers told Itezhi -tezhi Member of Parliament Greyford Monde who was in the district to inspect development projects when he toured the construction site.
One of the workers said when an accident happens due to negligence, the Chinese will either bribe or threaten the injured person not to report to Itezhi Tezhi Power Corporation (ITPC) or police.
“You find that even if you are hurt some colleagues will not report for fear of being fired and losing a salary,’ he said.
The workers who submitted 13 complaints against the firm requested not to be identified for fear of victimisation.
“The Chinese are more interested in having the job done on time, not safety” said one of the workers who opted to remain anonymous for fear of victimization.
But Mr Monde who is also Agriculture and Livestock Deputy Minister said complying to labour laws and ensuring worker’s safety standards should be a standard operation practice.
The minister advised the management at the company to treat their workers with respect to prevent reprisals from workers.
“We do not want what happened at Maamba where local employees were annoyed by constant abuse and rioted resulting in death of some Chinese nationals.
And responding to the complaints submitted by workers, Sino hydro commercial ManagerHe Zhijun said salaries for Sino hydro workers are based on number of hours an individual works and that the salaries are above the minimum wage as stipulated by government.
“Sino hydro salaries are much higher than what other construction companies are paying. The harder you work the more money you earn. No work no money,” he said.
Mr. Zhijun said Sino hydro has been paying workers on time but the local bank ZANACO has been letting them down sometimes because of systems failure.
“The complaint that we don’t pay on time is not true because we pay on time but the technical failure at the bank sometimes causes the delay. For example on 6th May the system stopped working and the bank apologized for the delay due to this,” said Zhijun.