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WORKERS in the Midlands province are bracing for a bleak Christmas as most of the companies in the region have either closed shop and the few open are operating below capacity.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), central region, regional officer Charles Chikozho told NewZimbabwe.com in an interview that most workers in the region were on fixed contract hence “cannot dream of the 13th cheque.”

Chikozho said this festive season was worse for the few remaining workers in the region as they were owed in salary arrears by their employers.

“We have companies that are struggling to operate above float in the region with most of them on fixed contracts,” Chikozho said.

“So for workers who rely on contracts that have to be continually renewed, they cannot dream of the 13th cheque.”

Big companies in Gweru such as Zimcast, Zimalloys, Radar Castings, Kariba Batteries, GW Minerals and Swisette among others have closed down while others are on the verge of collapse.

Others such at Bata and Zimglass are operating below capacity and have been struggling to pay workers over the years.

The Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce reported that since April this year 15 firms in Kwekwe had shut down after losing legal battles with workers over unpaid salaries.

These include, Bell Medical Centre, a private hospital, Midlands engineering group, CC Electrical and Blythedale Mining among others.

Chikozho said though the plight of workers was sad in the country in general, Midlands province’s was unique in that the rich mineral great dyke passed through the province though it did not relate to improved lives for people in the region.

Economic analysts have maintained that the fortunes of the province could change once the former Ziscosteel now New Zimsteel comes into full operation.

Source : New Zimbabwe