Hwange Colliery Company Limited (HCCL) has started paying salaries to its workers’ who had gone for two years without salaries. The coal mining giant’s salary arrears had ballooned to $19 million as it stopped paying salaries in November 2013.
HCCL managing director Thomas Makore yesterday confirmed that the company had started paying its workers, but could not be drawn into revealing how much had been paid so far.
He said HCCL had implemented a divisional structure that would see the company’s different divisions standing on their own and paying salaries to their respective workers.
“The December 2013 salaries have been delayed. However, most of them have been paid and the balance will be paid before the end of this month. The salary backlog will be paid off gradually from new funding facilities,” said Makore.
“We have implemented a divisional structure from January 1, 2015. Estates and medical divisions are now stand alone sections and they shall cover their own costs and start paying full salaries to their staff from this month end.”
Makore said the company was working towards clearing its salary backlog through increased business from the company’s turnaround plan which is being implemented.
“The mining division is on a turnaround and recovery path and we expect to cover the salaries when we reach 300,000 tonnes of sales per month,” he added.
The company has always attributed its failure to pay its workforce of more than 2,000 workers, to low sales volumes, lack of recapitalisation to replace its obsolete machinery and a shrinking market as a result of the opening of a number of coal mines.
Workers who spoke to Chronicle on condition of anonymity confirmed that some money had been deposited into their bank accounts after toiling for nothing last year.
“The company deposited a month’s salary into my account. This is just too little considering that we stopped getting our salaries in November 2013. We’re now in 2015 but we’re still talking about 2013 salaries, which is not fair,” said one of the workers.
“I wish management could speed up the implementation of its turnaound plan and clear the salary backlog. I’m sure this will improve morale among the workers and improve their performance.”
HCCL intends to increase its monthly coal output from 150,000 tonnes to more than 450,000 tonnes to enable it to realise a turnover of about $17 million a month.