Arda salary exemption effort hits brick wall

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Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo

THE Retrenchment Board has rejected an application by Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) to be exempted from paying a retrenchment package to 70 of its workers, saying the company had approached the board with dirty hands, businessdigest has learnt.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

There has been a flurry of applications to the Retrenchment Board since the amendment to the Labour Act empowering employers to pay a minimum of two weeks’ wages for every year plus payment equal to three months’ notice.

An economic crisis, characterised by a debilitating liquidity crunch as evidenced by the acute cash shortage and low capacity utilisation, has worsened.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary general Japhet Moyo told businessdigest this week that the board had thrown out Arda’s application because they had sent the workers home without applying to the board.

“Arda approached the Retrenchment Board applying to be exempted from paying retrenchment packages to the 70 workers they had sent home before approaching the board,” Moyo revealed.

“Their application hit a snag because the board told them that they could not apply for exemption since they had approached the board with dirty hands.”

He said what had compounded the challenges facing Arda’s application was that the workers had gone to the Labour Ministry against the state entity, citing unfair dismissal.

“The board referred them to Makombe Building (the offices of the Labour Ministry),” Moyo said.

Arda’s application, Moyo said, was further weakened by the presentation of unsigned audit statements which they wanted to use as proof of their inability to pay the laid off workers.

“Arda presented audited statements which were not signed and when the board inquired as to why, they said auditors had refused to sign the statements because they had not been paid,” Moyo told businessdigest.

This comes at a time when nearly 9 000 workers were retrenched in 2015 and 2016 as viability challenges take a toll on companies.

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