NEARLY 1 300 workers have been retrenched from various sectors of the economy in the second quarter of 2017 with parastatals accounting for more than 60% of those laid off, bringing the number of those laid off in the first half of the year to more than 2 000, businessdigest has learnt.
By Kudzai Kuwaza
This is revealed in statistics compiled by Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare at a time the economic crisis, characterised by a debilitating liquidity crunch, a crippling cash shortages, declining investment inflows, company closures and job losses, deepens.
According to the statistics, a total of 1 282 workers were retrenched between the period of April to June 2017. This is in addition to the 817 workers retrenched in the first quarter, bringing the total of workers laid off in the first half of the year to 2 099.
According to the figures for the second quarter of the year, parastatals retrenched 785 workers, which is 61% of those retrenched in the quarter. The commercial sector laid off 90 workers with furniture manufacturing (89), mining (76), Food and Allied (37) and security (33) also retrenching employees. There were 33 workers from unclassified sectors who lost their jobs during the second quarter of the year.
The stats also show that agriculture and chemical and fertiliser manufacturing sectors each laid off 17 workers with transport (16), timber (13) and education (12), among other sectors who retrenched their staff during the period.
Employers’ Confederation of Zimbabwe executive director John Mufukare expressed alarm over the continued haemorrhaging of jobs.
“The statistics are alarming; absolutely horrific,” Mufukare told businessdigest. “The figures are a lot worse than we anticipated. We thought that the slowdown in productivity will slowdown retrenchments, but they are actually accelerating.”
Mufukare said the biggest worry for employers is that the country is still bleeding jobs even after a significant reduction in production.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo said the fact that the largest number of affected workers are from state-owned entities signals the depth of the economic crisis.
“When you have parastatals being the most affected by retrenchments, it is an indication that the economy is in the doldrums,” Moyo said.
He said things could not be expected to improve on their own without a fundamental mindset shift and change in policy framework.
“How can we expect the economy to improve when we have not changed course?,” Moyo pointed out.
According to figures by the ZCTU, nearly 9 000 workers were retrenched in 2015 and 2016.
Thousands also lost their jobs in 2015 after a Supreme Court ruling allowed employers to dismiss workers on three months’ notice without paying a retrenchment package. Etsimates of the number of workers affected by the ruling widely vary from 9 000 to 30 000.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa revealed in his 2015 budget statement that 55 543 workers were thrown onto the streets as a result of the closure of 4 610 jobs between 2011 and 2014.