Natbrew yet to pay former employees

Ray Matikinye

THIRTY-TWO National Breweries workers who were dismissed 15 months ago following a strike over a disputed computation of salary increments have still not been paid their terminal benefits. The

workers have accused the company of trying to buy time by appealing against every ruling by the Labour Court.

Workers’ representatives say the packages offered are way below what any worker would expect after serving the company for years.

They cited a worker who, out of desperation, accepted $300 000 as a severance package after serving the company for 11 years.

The representatives say they were dismissed after being misled to believe salary increments based on an indexing system would award workers a 107 % increment while management calculated the wage increase as 57%. The workers went on strike in October 2003.

“The way this new system was explained to us by management convinced the workers it was a simple mathematical calculation. But it turned out to be a source of contention between management and workers who opted for a week-long work boycott,” dismissed chairman of the workers committee, Claudius Chigwedere, said.

He said workers had followed laid down procedures and notified their employer of the intended job action but later complied with a ruling by labour officials to return to work as provided for by the Labour Relations Act.

“We were surprised when management started a witch-hunt targeted at workers’ representatives and others after determination by labour officials and our compliance,” Chigwedere said.

“They failed to competently explain an indexing system which the company was introducing but went ahead to dismiss workers for questioning the discrepancies in calculating increments,” said Noel Muzondiwa, another sacked representative.

Human resources director, Kelvin Jokonya, dismissed the workers’ claims, saying none of them had been denied terminal benefits. “How much did they say the company owes them? All I know is that they have taken their case to the courts,” he said before referring all others questions to the company’s corporate affairs director, George Mutendadzamera. Mutendadzamera requested questions in writing but had not responded yesterday to questions faxed to him three weeks ago.