Contracts termination unsettles workers

A decision to terminate contracts of employment and transfer employees to a new entity at Olivine industries has rattled workers as the manufacturing firm looks at restructuring the business, businessdigest has learnt.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

Olivine, in 2015, changed its shareholding with Singapore shareholder Wilmar International and Midex Group jointly snapping up a 49% stake in Olivine Industries with government owning the remainder through the Industrial Developmental Corporation. Wilmar and Midex also have a significant shareholding in Surface Wilmar, Zimbabwe’s biggest cooking oil manufacturer.

Workers who spoke to businessdigest said staffers from the marketing and distribution as well as sales departments were told by management that their contracts would be terminated on Tuesday and workers would be transferred to a new company called Hypery Brands effective from Wednesday this week.

“We were made to sign notices of transfer from Olivine Industries to Hypery Brands,” an affected employee told businessdigest.

“We have just signed the notices out of fear of being unemployed if we did not do so, but we are extremely worried about the development because this could be a way of easing us out of our jobs. We are not even clear what this will mean for us in the long run.”

Olivine Holdings board chairperson Peter Madara, in an e-mailed response to businessdigest, however, said the transfer had been necessitated by the need to rationalise costs.

“Please note that Olivine Industries (Pvt) Ltd and Surface Wilmar are now under a common shareholding,” Madara said.

“In pursuit of service excellence and rationalisation of common costs that are incurred by both Olivine and Surface, we had to put those common functions under one control for the good of all stakeholders (That forms the basis for Hypery Brands’ birth.)”

On production, Madara said they are currently producing Olivine cooking oil, Buttercup margarine and Jade toilet soap which are available on the market.

He added that the outlook for the second half of 2017 will entail reintroduction of some of its traditional laundry soap brands.