THE Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) has sent its workers on six months unpaid leave effective from last week Friday as management and employees head for arbitration over unpaid allowances amounting to more than US$1,3 million.
The resolution to send the workers on unpaid leave on a rotational basis from Friday last week to the July 5 2015 was made at the transport company’s national works council meeting held at the boardroom of its headquarters in Belvedere on Thursday last week despite protests by workers against the decision.
In a letter written to the affected workers, acting CEO Tendai Masaire said the decision has necessitated by “low business volumes”
“Subsequent to the national Works Council meeting held on 5 February 2015, management hereby advises that you are proceeding on unpaid leave for six months with effect from 06/02/15 to 05/07/15,” Masaire said in his letter.
“Should the business volumes improve, we will consider recalling you to work at the earliest convenience”. The letter was written under the reference “Special Measures to Avoid Retrenchment-Unpaid Leave.”
The decision to send employees on unpaid leave for six months, the meeting heard, is designed to reduce the wage bill adding that the unpaid leave was considered as the last resort as compared to retrenchment which “proved to be hard both to the company and the employees when it was previously implemented by the company”
The workers representatives, according to the minutes, refused to endorse the company’s decision to send workers on unpaid leave.
However, the meeting was told that company was going ahead to implement its decision to send employees for six months on unpaid leave “regardless of the workers committee refusal to endorse the decision” according to the minutes of the meeting.
Workers told businessdigest this week that the latest decision would reduce them to destitution as they did not have any other source of income and were clueless as to how they were going to pay for essentials such as school fees and rentals. The workers accused management of buying new cars and employing relatives at the expense of their well being.
Meanwhile, management and workers are preparing for another bruising battle as the two parties will go for arbitration over outstanding wages and allowances.
This was after company representatives told the National Employment Council for Transport & General Workers Union at a meeting held last week Friday with workers’ representatives and their lawyer from Wintertons Legal Practioneers Exodus Donzvambeva that there was no payment plan to offset outstanding wages and allowances.
This is despite assurances from management representatives at a meeting held in December last year that a payment plan would be in place by January 8 this year.
Sources said the reason the representatives gave for failure to come with a payment settlement was the company’s board has not yet met to determine the way forward on the issue and could not give a date when it would meet.
Zupco has since refused to comment on the problems affecting the parastatal.