November 2, 2007

Labour ministry shuts down roses company

The Labour Ministry has ordered the suspension of all activities of the company Golden Fields (also referred to as Golden Roses), because of its gross violations of workers' rights.
The company, whose owners include former foreign minister Leonardo Simao, and his wife Josefina, plans to grow and export roses in the district of Moamba, some 60 kilometres northwest of Maputo. But the workers have demonstrated outside the Moamba District Administration, complaining of sub-human working and living conditions. Subsequent media investigations found their complaints accurate.
The workers, recruited from the central provinces of Tete and Manica, said Josefina Simao had promised them decent housing. But when they reached Moamba, they found they were accommodated in tents improvised out of sacking. They had no bathrooms, the only water they had to drink came straight out of the Incomati river, and they complained of working ten hour shifts without boots, gloves or other protective clothing. When the General Inspector of Labour, Joaquim Siuta, went to visit the company, security guards refused to let him in - although legally labour inspectors are entitled to visit workplaces without notice whenever they choose. Siuta only gained entrance when he returned the following day accompanied by a police unit.
Siuta's findings were serious enough for the General Labour Inspectorate (IGT) to order the immediate closure of the company. This suspension of activities will only be lifted once Golden Fields has implemented Siuta's recommendations to the satisfaction of the IGT.
According to a Labour Ministry press release, the IGT has demanded that Golden Fields provide "decent accommodation for the workers, in line with the legal norms". It must also ensure "a supply of clean drinking water in sufficient quantities to meet the needs, safety equipment at the workplace, and first aid conditions in the company". The IGT also expected the company to provide a kitchen and a canteen, equipped with tables and benches, and "the improvement of other working and human conditions". The release said that the workers were "deprived of all the basic conditions for the operation of a company of the nature of Golden Fields". (Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique, Maputo)

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