Cold Storage Company workers say they could never sabotage any investor into the moribund parastatal, including Boustead Beef, because they wanted to be paid their wages that have been outstanding for more than a decade.
Instead they sacrificed any wage increases because they feared that a huge outstanding wage bill would scare away investors.
In a statement responding to claims by Boustead Beef that it failed to revive the CSC because it was sabotaged by workers who also stripped company assets, the workers said Boustead Beef simply did not have the capacity to revive the parastatal because it had no money.
Boustead Beef entered into an agreement with the government in January 2019 to revive the CSC promising to invest US$130 million but nothing of the sort happened.
The company was also never asked to show proof of funds, something that smacks of corruption within the Ministry of lands and Agriculture.
The company shut down operations in September claiming that it was retooling and refurbishing but after four months it sought to retrench the workers saying it was doing so on behalf of the government which was supposedly the employer of the workers.
The government stepped in and placed the company under a corporate rescue plan. The order was granted by the High Court on 3 December last year.
“As workers we never and will never ever frustrate any investor, BB included. The nation has to know this,” the workers said.
“As workers and management we agreed at our national staff council meeting that we would not raise our salaries the main reason being that we did not want to scare away any investor, BB included, with a huge wage bill.
“We further agreed on a short time work arrangement with the same vision of arresting the continued ballooning of the wage bill.
“This was not an easy pill to swallow as workers where already hard hit economically after a decade of being paid less than 25% of their wages and salaries. This was a clear and genuine commitment to accommodate any incoming investor.”
The workers said they were excited when Boustead Beef came onto the scene but things started going down in September when Boustead Beef said it was shutting down operations at the Bulawayo factory for four months to retool and refurbish.
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