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Total in salary dispute

Paul Nyakazeya

A SALARY dispute has erupted at oil company Total which took over Mobil Oil Zimbabwe in December last year. Sources indicated that Total’s mana

gement was refusing to award former Mobil workers a 300% salary increase backdated to March.

The move by management is meant to dodge payments running into billions of dollars in a retrenchment exercise set to start this month.

According to correspondence in the possession of businessdigest, Total wants to retrench half the workforce of the merged operation.

The two oil companies have a combined staff of over 270 people.

Following a deadlock over salaries, Mobil employees in February sent a petition to Total’s regional director, Momar Nguer based in Paris, to resolve the dispute.

Nguer visited Zimbabwe to discuss the matter on April 5.

He promised the workers that they would be given salary increases backdated to March, but sources indicated that local management decided no increases would be awarded to former Mobil employees.

Mobil Oil Malawi director, Lamuel Tsikirayi, who was appointed as “change management and projects” consultant, has been accused of aligning himself with Total management in a dispute he was hired to resolve.

The matter is now being handled by the Ministry of Labour.

But as the drama unfolds, two managers are said to have appointed a new eight-member management structure for the amalgamated organisation with effect from June 1.

“This is to advise that the business undertaking of Mobil Oil Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd will be transferred to Total Zimbabwe (Pvt) effective June 1 2006,” reads an internal memo to all Mobil and Total employees.

“As a consequence all employees of the company will with effect from the same date automatically become employees of Total Zimbabwe on the same terms and conditions applicable immediately prior to that date and with no loss of accrued entitlements and benefits.”

The new management structure includes Mary Mazhude (human resource manager), Sevious Mhaka (audit manager), Peter Mukawu (business development manager), Baba Diallo (finance manager). They are all from Mobil.

The other managers are from Total and comprise Stanley Hatendi (strategy, public and special projects manager), Allen Mushaninga (HSEQ manager), Phillippe Savariau (Operations manager) and Stephene Lapauw (marketing manager).

Total Zimbabwe took over as the major shareholder of Mobil Oil Zimbabwe in December.

This was part of a deal that affected Mobil’s controlling shareholder ExxonMobil’s operations in 13 African countries, namely Chad, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Togo and Zambia.

The agreements cover ExxonMobil’s motor fuels, lubricant aviation and marine petroleum products businesses.

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