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Companies retrench 160 more

EIGHT companies registered their agreements to lay-off workers with the Retrenchment Board earlier this month, affecting at least 160 employees, businessdigest has learnt.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

This adds to the 817 workers who were retrenched in the first quarter of the year.

The retrenchments come amid a deepening economic crisis characterised by a severe liquidity crisis, an acute cash shortage, low capacity utilisation, declining investment inflows and company closures.

An insider told businessdigest this week that eight companies had informed the Retrenchment Board that they had laid off workers and had agreed on the packages with the affected employees.

“We have eight companies who have registered their retrenchment exercise with the board at the last meeting held this month,” the source said. “Each of the companies retrenched an average of about 20 workers which means about 160 workers have lost their jobs.”

The board, the source revealed, had also instructed some of the companies, among them Hwange Colliery, to go back and resolve differences with workers after disagreements over retrenchment packages.

National airline Air Zimbabwe recently laid off 200 workers with the National Railways of Zimbabwe revealing that they are looking to retrench between 1 500 and 2 000 workers to stay afloat.

Retrenchments have been on the increase since the Labour Act was amended that allows employers to pay minimum retrenchment package of two weeks’ pay for every year served.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Peter Mutasa told businessdigest on Wednesday that the carnage in the labour market is symptomatic of the deepening political, economic and social crisis in the country.

“What is happening in the labour market is a reflection of the bigger crisis in the country,” Mutasa said.

He said the political crisis in the country characterised by violence as the 2018 elections nears has sapped confidence in the country by investors and tourists alike.

Mutasa said the haemorraging of jobs through retrenchments will continue “as long as we have the same political players and the same system in place.”

He said the ZCTU are in the process of making a compilation of workers who have been retrenched not only officially, but informally.

Mutasa criticised the amendments to the Labour Act, which he said have made it easier for workers to be laid off.
“We have decimated the labour regulations that used to protect workers,” Mutasa said. An industrialist told businessdigest that the retrenchments confirmed the parlous state of the economy.

“It is really not surprising,” he said. “Anyone with eyes can see that the economy is heading south. Anyone who says the economy is recovering is whistling in the dark and trying to put on a brave face.”

According to figures by the ZCTU, nearly 9 000 workers were retrenched in 2015 and 2016.

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