2 800 workers laid off as economic crisis deepens

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MORE than 2 800 workers were retrenched by 73 companies in 2017 for various reasons ranging from restructuring to viability challenges.

By Kudzai Kuwaza

The retrenchments are as a result of the economic crisis that has been characterised by a debilitating liquidity crunch, a severe cash shortage, dwindling investment inflows, capacity utilisation of less than 50% and company closures.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general Japhet Moyo said statistics compiled by the Retrenchment Board show that 2 830 workers from various sectors of the economy were laid off in 2017. He said 73 companies had retrenched throughout last year, among them the Grain Marketing Board which laid off 124 workers, National Social Security Authority (88), Unilever (75), Bumi Hills Safari Lodge (61), Dairibord (25) and Astra Industries (24).

Moyo said the reasons given for retrenchment by companies include the need to restructure, poor performance, viability challenges and redundancy.

He said some of the companies that retrenched, such as the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority, had asked to be exempted from paying retrenchment packages. Those that applied for exemption cited viability challenges, Moyo said.

The current legislation mandates employers to pay two weeks’ wages for every year served as part of the retrenchment package.

Moyo said the figure was by no means exhaustive as many other companies just retrenched without registering with the Retrenchment Board.

“The number of those retrenched last year is alarming,” Moyo said. “It shows the impact of the economic turbulence in the country.”

However, Moyo said the new dispensation will result in fewer retrenchments this year.

Former president Robert Mugabe resigned last year in the face of impeachment proceedings prompted by military intervention. He was succeeded by President Emmerson Mnangagwa who was inaugurated on November 24.

“I think the expectations of the new administration might breathe life into companies,” Moyo said. “People can live on promises. It will cause some companies to hang on in expectation of the promises made by the new government.”

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