Workers at Indian-owned Varun Beverages Zimbabwe Limited (VBZL), producers of Pepsi drinks, on Wednesday staged a protest alleging racism, S..ex..ual harassment, and unfair dismissals at the company.
The company is owned by Indian billionaire Ravi Jaipuria who also owns Pepsi franchises in Zambia, Kenya, Uganda, Mozambique, Morocco, and Nigeria.
The local workers have complained of being paid “peanuts” in RTGS dollars while expatriates are being paid in foreign currency. In a statement, the workers said:
The Indians at VBZL are exercising gross human rights violations, several workers are prepared to come forward and testify against a bucket-load of ongoing incidents, especially from managers. It’s disheartening to realize that VBZL has become the architect of economic slavery in Zimbabwe.
. . .The Indians view themselves as ‘warlords’, using intimidating techniques and extremely abusive language at plant workers and employing autocratic and military-style tactics to run a beverage manufacturing company.
At this rate, if let to go scot-free, a tragic case (similar to the one involving a purported Chinese investor and two Zimbabwean workers) can be experienced at the company.
The protests at the Indian-owned firm come hard on the heels of the shooting of two employees by a Chinese employer in Gweru.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union confirmed has condemned the unfair labour practices at VBZL and has warned all investors, be they Chinese, Indians or local, that it is unlawful to practise segregation, exploitation or any unlawful conduct.