600 seasonal workers at the Xinavane sugar plantation in Maputo province of Mozambique have been on wildcat strike since last Friday (15th February).
The workers are demanding a wage increase of over 100%, from 1,100 to 2,500 meticais (from US$46 to US$104), as well as protective clothing, overtime for working on Sundays and the right to a day off in the event of the death of a family member.
Last Friday, workers caused serious damage to the company offices and the homes of company managers as well as set 20 hectares of sugar cane ablaze. The Friday and Saturday clashes resulted in injuries to 20 people, five of whom had to be transferred to Maputo Central Hospital. Xinavane bosses had hoped that workers would have returned to their jobs on Monday but the strikes continued with the strong presence of the riot police around the sugar factory and homes of managers, to deter a repetition of last weekends violence.
Mozambique's main trade union federation, the OTM, has distanced itself from the wildcat strike. A statement issued by the OTM on Monday said that the strikers had acted without any advance warning and stressed that it "distances itself from wildcat strikes and acts of vandalism, which only endanger continued production and also the maintenance of jobs".
"The exercise of trade union rights, including the right to strike", it added, "should be undertaken within the framework of the labour legislation in force in the country, and always within the perspective of prioritizing dialogue and the search for negotiated solutions".
The OTM called on the Xinavane workers "to remain calm, and abstain from acts that violate the labour law, so that the local trade union committee and the Sugar Workers Union can continue negotiating with the employer".