HARARE, July 17– Zimbabwe’s Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister, Nicholas Goche, has intevened to stop an imminent strike by workers in the brewing and distillation sector after negotiations on the 2014 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) reached a deadlock, union sources say.

Earlier this month, the Brewing and Distilling Workers Union of Zimbabwe, which represents more than 13,000 workers, announced it would take industrial action from July 1 this year.

Last week, Delta Beverages wrote to Goche, pleading with the government to stop a pending national strike in a fortnight which it said would cripple operations of the country’s largest brewery and result in shortages on the market.

United Food and Allied Workers Union of Zimbabwe (UFAWUZ) secretary-general Adonia Mutero said here Wednesday that Goche intervened to end a strike which was supposed to resume on Thursday.

Mutero said food industry employers had become a difficult group with a collective agenda to further tuck downwards the conditions of workers by offering a zero per cent increment.

He said employers had refused to comply with Section 76 of the Labor Act to disclose their financial status in a bid to prove their bankruptcy while companies like Delta issued statements declaring 140 million US dollars in profit.

“The brewing and distillation sector strike was intended to start tomorrow (Thursday) but Minister Goche said players should meet next week first and negotiate in good faith,” he said, adding that Goche had hinted the government might consider hiring investigators to scrutinize accounts of the companies.

“If they then have powers more than the Ministry itself then we are going to withdraw labor,” said Mutero
“We are done with the due process of law in terms of following proper procedures of doing a lawful strike and the membership in the brewing and distilling have voted 99 percent in favor of going forward with a

Mutero, however, said failure to come up with a negotiated settlement would mean that more than 15,000 workers would be forced to go ahead with the strike in a week’s time. “Definitely brewing and distilling is one of the largest employment sector in the food industry employing plus or minus 15 000. But we may
be forced to paralyze the sector,” he said.

“As we are talking right now the millers have gone for negotiations and this is their last meeting today. If the employers remain adamant then the milling and baking industry will be next and eventually it will be
the whole industry.”