MORE than 260 workers could lose their jobs, with more than a quarter of them coming from parastatals, if retrenchment applications made by companies from various sectors of the economy last month are approved, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
The envisaged layoffs come at a time the economic crisis — which is characterised by a debilitating liquidity crunch as evidenced by a severe cash shortage, low capacity utilisation of less than 50% and widespread company closures — is deepening.
According to statistics availed by the Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe, 265 workers are facing retrenchment after applications were made to lay them off in January. The commercial sector has the highest number of retrenchment applications with 77, while parastatals have 70 applications to lay off workers.
The application by state enterprises is an indication of the viability challenges they are facing as a result of years of mismanagement and corruption.
Other sectors that have applied to retrench workers in January include food (42), mining (31) motor industry (21), tourism (12), catering (4) and transport (3).
Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) executive director John Mufukare said the number of companies applying to retrench workers in the first month of the year is “frightening”.
“We have hardly started the year and we already have companies wanting to lay off a total of 265, which is frightening,” Mufukare said. “This bodes horribly for the rest of the year.”
Should the applications succeed, the 265 retrenched workers will join thousands who have been thrown onto the streets as companies struggle to stay afloat.
In 2015, a total of 5 333 workers were retrenched with another 3 510 laid off last year, bringing the total retrenched in the last two years to 8 843. This compounds the jobs which were lost through the closure of at least 260 companies last year from the food, engineering and clothing sectors, among others.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court has issued a directive to Emcoz’s lawyers to cite and bring Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira to court as a respondent in its lawsuit against government, Mufukare revealed.
Employers took government to court in 2015 after they were ordered to compensate workers they had dismissed on three months’ notice without paying a retrenchment package. This was as a result of the July 17 2015 ruling which had allowed employers to do so.