60 furniture workers lose jobs in May

AT least 60 workers in the timber and furniture sector were rendered jobless last month through company closures and retrenchments as the economic implosion continues to worsen, businessdigest has learnt.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

This adds to about 400 workers in the sector who lost their jobs between December last year and February this year.

The sector has been hard hit by a number of challenges, which include among other things, the liquidity crunch, decline in productivity and the flooding of cheap imports on the market.

“The situation is deteriorating in the sector with some of the companies winding up and other companies retrenching workers in May,”an official at the Zimbabwe Timber, Furniture and Allied Trade Union told businessdigest on Tuesday. “A total of 60 workers have been thrown onto the streets last month alone.”

The union official said most workers in the sector were going for months without being paid their salaries as employers battle to stay afloat. 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.

Nearly 30 000 workers across various sectors have been rendered jobless as a result of the July 17 Supreme Court ruling, according to trade unions. Employers however argue that 9 115 workers were affected by the court ruling.

Employer’s Confederation of Zimbabwe president Josephat Kahwema has warned that job losses will worsen with the current cash shortages which have severely restricted spending by consumers.

“More jobs are going to be lost with the reduced circulation of cash in the system due to the cash shortages,” Kahwema said. “People are likely to spend less and this will affect business and jobs.”

Kahwema said the uncertainty triggered by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s plans to introduce bond notes in the market will result in a drastic reduction of cash circulation as the transacting public hold on to their cash.