MORE than 1 000 workers in the timber and furniture business, part of manufacturing, have lost their jobs this year as a result of company closures and retrenchments as the country’s economic decline takes its toll, businessdigest has learnt.
The sector has been hard hit by a number of challenges which include the liquidity crunch, decline in productivity and the flooding of cheap imports on the market.
An official at the Zimbabwe Timber, Furniture and Allied Trade Union told business digest that at least 1 000 employees have lost their jobs as a result of companies that have shut shop as well as from the retrenchment of employees using the July 17 Supreme Court ruling that allowed employers to dismiss workers on three months’ notice without paying a retrenchment package.
“The closure of companies such as Tradewinds and Arrow furniture shops and the dismissal of TN workers has contributed to more than 1000 employees being thrown on to the streets. The industry is under threat,” the official told businessdigest.
Cheap imported furniture from China, Dubai and South Africa has flooded the market crowding out local furniture manufacturers and severely reducing productivity as well as revenue margins, the official revealed. The trade unionist said that the remaining companies were barely managing to keep their heads above water with workers at some of the companies going for as long as three months without their salaries.
Nearly 300 000 workers across various sectors have been rendered jobless as a result of the July 17 Supreme Court ruling which allowed employers to retrench employees on three months’ notice without paying severance packages.
However, government moved in to amend the law, removing the right of employers to terminate contracts on three months’ notice with Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira presenting the bill in Parliament in August.
The amendments sailed through Parliament before President Robert Mugabe signed it into law to the disapproval of business and labour, who feel their concerns were not addressed.