AS the economy continues in freefall, between 100 and 400 workers are being retrenched every week, businessdigest has established.
Insiders in the Retrenchment Board revealed that the recorded number of retrenchments from January to date stands at just over 2060. This, sources said, was not a reflection of the total number of retrenchments as an estimated 30% do not approach the board when trimming their staff complement.
“We are retrenching a minimum of 100 workers and a maximum of 400 every week,” an insider said.
Most of the retrenchments are in the engineering, furniture, agriculture and commercial sectors, sources said.
In the agriculture sector, which is considered one of the main pillars of the economy, seed companies and distributors of farming equipment are carrying out “massive retrenchments”.
This, they revealed, adds to the 9 000 plus workers who lost their jobs after 75 companies failed to reopen for business this year after the Christmas break.
This is in addition to a July 2013 National Social Security Authority (Nssa) Harare Regional Employer Closures and Registrations Report for the period July 2011 to July 2013 which shows that 711 companies in Harare closed down, rendering 8 336 individuals jobless.
Major companies that have retrenched include platinum miners Zimplats and Unki, Bindura Nickel, Spar supermarkets, Dairibord, Cairns, Olivine Industries and PG Industries.
The continued decline of the economy, characterised by a severe liquidity crunch, has spawned massive retrenchments which threaten the formal sector and government’s tax base.
Most of those affected by the companies’ failure to reopen had lost not only retrenchment packages but unpaid salaries accrued over several months, insiders revealed.
Most workers did not fully benefit from the retrenchment packages from employers as they were being paid out in dribs and drabs usually over a 12- month period.
This, they said, shortchanged workers as they could not venture into any meaningful projects if they had been paid their package in full.
Insider also revealed that some employers were violating labour laws as they completed retrenchment package negotiations with the affected workers coming from home.
The law stipulates that no worker should leave the company before the completion of retrenchment package negotiations.
The unemployment rate, given the escalating increase in retrenchments, is now estimated at 94%.
Meanwhile partners in the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) will meet for the first time in nearly two years and are scheduled to meet before mid July.
The TNF is a social dialogue platform that brings together government, business and labour to negotiate over key socio-economic matters.
It has been in existence since 1998 as a voluntary and unlegislated chamber in which socio-economic matters are discussed and negotiated over by the social partners.
“The issue of the imploding labour market is the main item on the agenda,” one of the TNF participants confided. “Everything else is peripheral. We cannot pretend that it is business as usual.”