About 6,500 construction workers building the infrastructures at a future open cast coal mine in the western Mozambican province of Tete went on strike on Thursday demanding information about redundancy pay, since the construction work is drawing to a close and workers are beginning to be laid off. The workers are employed by the Brazilian company Odebrecht Camargo Correia, which was hired by the mining giant Vale, also of Brazil, to build the infrastructures for its mine in Moatize district.
According to the strikers, issue of the Beira daily paper Diario de Mocambique, the decision to go on strike was taken after the trade union committee informed them that layoffs would begin on Wednesday and the work force would be gradually slimmed down until the end of the job in June 2011. The workers demanded from the employer clarification about their redundancy pay rights, as stipulated in Mozambican legislation.
The strikers claim that those being laid off are receiving just one and a half months pay, which amounts to somewhat more than USD 110, but others, who were expelled for disciplinary problems have already received MZM 18 to MZM 20,000.
Strikers clashed with the police, who fired tear gas cylinders after some of the police had been hit by stones. One striker told reporters that at least three people had been injured in the clash and were treated in the local clinic.
The chief inspector in the Tete Provincial Labour Directorate, Ofelio Geremias said the difference in redundancy pay could be explained by differences in the contracts signed. The management has not yet given its version of events. The trade union committee has continued negotiating with the management, in the presence of Moatize District Administrator, Manuel Guimaraes and the Provincial Director of Labour, Lourenco Vilanculos.