26 October 2010
Maputo — Workers at Mozambique’s largest food processing factory, the Matola Industrial Company (CIM), went on strike on Monday, demanding wage increase and overtime payments.
The workers also demanded the removal of two CIM managers, the head of human resources, Samuel Mapusto and the director of operations, Luis Aveleira, for alleged discrimination in their treatment of the work force.
The secretary of the CIM trade union committee, Claudio Muianga, cited in Tuesday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”, said the strike results from successive failures in wage negotiations with the management.
“We have been trying to negotiate with our employers for four months and we have never reached an agreement that satisfies us. The wages we are paid are not in accordance with the category of this company, much less its production capacity”, said Muianga.
He said that a few months ago the minimum wage at CIM was 2,500 meticais (about 70 US dollars) a month, which was increased to 3,200 meticais after negotiations. This increase was not sufficient to satisfy the workers.
Muianga added that the CIM management proposed to make additional payments in kind, giving each worker 12.5 kilos of maize flour and 10 kilos of pasta per month. The workers turned this offer down, declaring that they are not employed on “food for work” schemes (a reference to food aid handouts by the UN World Food Programme).
A meeting was to have been held on Saturday to discuss and find solutions to these problems but none of the managers turned up. This angered the workers and they decided to go on strike.
Muianga said the strike is entirely peaceful, but warned that it will only end when the management makes proposals that satisfy the work force.
The police was on hand at the entrance to CIM to prevent any violence. Most of the workers were demonstrating outside the premises, but some of the administrative staff continued working, much to the annoyance of the strikers, who regarded them as scabs.
The management shot itself in the foot by refusing to speak to the press. Security guards refused to allow journalists into the factory, and said they had received instructions from their superiors not to allow any journalist onto the premises.