Job losses intensify as economy bleeds

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AS the economy haemorrhages and companies continuously shut down, more than 362 workers have been retrenched this month with many firms awaiting approval from the Retrenchment Board to lay off hundreds of workers.

Kudzai Kuwaza

This brings the number of those retrenched this year alone to more than 5 600.

This is in stark contrast to the dreamy promise by ruling Zanu PF — struggling with a sinking economy — to create 2,2 million jobs during the run-up to last year’s general elections.

Sources at the Retrenchment Board revealed that the 362 workers laid off this month add to the 4 668 workers retrenched between January and July, and 623 made redundant in August and September.

The sources said organisations and companies that have retrenched workers this month include Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) Belgium Mission, MSF Spanish Mission, Western Transport and Old Mutual.

The number of retrenchments would escalate should the board approve more applications made by companies to lay off workers, sources said.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo said four clothing companies are in trouble after the Zimbabwe Republic Police failed to pay them for supplying uniforms.

The four are James North which is owed US$439 000, Diesel Gear (Pvt) Ltd (US$339 576,71), Throbs (Pvt) Ltd (US$234 482,71) and Saybrook (Pvt) Ltd (US$48 000).

Moyo said the wave of company closures and retrenchments would not be stemmed as long as structural challenges affecting the economy are not addressed.

Companies still awaiting approval to lay off their workers, sources said, include Crest Poultry Group that wants to retrench 464 employees, Lonrho Fresh Exports (125), Willwovale Mazda Motor Industries (101) and Mimosa (64). Should all these companies get the board’s go-ahead, 750 more workers would be thrown onto the streets.

Troubled parastatal National Railways of Zimbabwe had applied to retrench 6 000 workers, but later withdrew the application, the sources said.

Moyo said 52 companies have retrenched this year. These, he said, include Grain Marketing Board, Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, Nissan Zimbabwe, PG Industries, First Mutual, Tristar, Cargill, Beta Bricks, Tetrad Investment Bank, Stewart Bank, CFI and Metbank. Other companies and organisations which have laid off workers, Moyo said, are Meikles Hotel, Rainbow Tourism Group, TelOne, Australian embassy, Mike Appel, Rufaro Marketing, Pearl Properties, Celsys, Minerva Risk Advisory, Spar Letombo, Innscor, Jacob Bethel and Montana Meats.

Moyo said the reasons companies gave for retrenchment include the need to restructure or downsize, redundancy as well as outsourcing of services.

“I do not believe that the trend is going to be stopped as long as you have the same policies, the same pieces of legislation and continued corruption in government,” Moyo said.

Many companies have retrenched, but the statistics are not captured, while some have downsized and closed down sending thousands into the streets. The economy, reeling from low aggregate demand, falling production and a liquidity crunch, among a plethora of other problems, is now technically in recession after two successive quarters of negative growth.

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