The company closed shop in August last year, resulting in about 472 workers placed on compulsory leave while they receive an allowance. The management had said they were closing shop to allow for the re-building of the only remaining furnace that was operational at the company. The other furnace was last used in 2002 and it needed between US$10million and US$19million for re-construction. The company said financial problems and below capacity production had hindered them from re-building both furnaces.
Speaking to Radio Vop, Zimglass Managing Director, Jacob Dube confirmed that they had not managed to meet their March deadline. “We have not reopened because we have had delays in receiving the equipment from Europe. This was because of the delays in establishment of the letter of credit."
Dube said they now estimated that operations will begin on the 1st of July.
“We have agreed in the works council that we extend the shutdown to June. We should resume operations in July and a local bank has already paid a deposit for the equipment from Italy. They have shown commitment to sourcing funds. As of now we have extended the unpaid leave and we will be notifying our employees,” Dube said.
Zimglass has sourced equipment from an Italian Company BDF industries (Bosca Dalla Fontana) estimated to cost about US$4million.
Despite the fact that works council agreed on the extension of paid leave, workers who had reported for duty and spoke to Radio VOP on Thursday blasted both the management and their representatives whom they accused of working in cahoots with management.
The workers described the allowances they are currently receiving as peanuts, despite a review to between US$ 60 to US$85.
“We have really suffered as Zimglass workers and we were hoping that we would start working March. We are so dismayed to hear that the leave will be extended to June. How are we going to go through another four months again without salaries when we have families to look after? We had asked our workers representatives to at least negotiate that we get half salaries, but we were told the company said they could not afford it," said one worker.
He said the allowances they were receiving were not paid on time.
"Sometimes it comes three months late yet we have families to look after,” said the worker.
Another worker said it did not make sense to close the only glass manufacturer in the country.
“Zimglass was once one of the companies that most people wanted to work for. Now it has been run down."
The worker said the decision to force workers to go on compulsory forced leave was drastic as families of the workers were now living in abject poverty. Some workers have taken up employment as gardeners and other menial jobs while waiting for the company to re-open.