By Melody Chikono
ZIMBABWE is unable to accurately capture job loss statistics as current laws do not compel employers to report such cases at a time many employees are being sent packing because of the Covid-19 impact and other viability challenges.
Available statistics from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare shows that a total of 1 131 people lost their jobs in the first half of the year, with the banking, communications, tourism and insurance sectors being the worst affected.
The banking sector last year warned of massive job losses due to the ongoing digital migration which has seen masses losing jobs as bank branches close.
The sector officially sent home 259 employees during the period, while communications recorded 178 job losses with tourism and insurance recording 79 and 77, respectively.
Zimbabwe has had a myriad of challenges in relation to formal employment downsizing as the economy continues to tank.
Covid-19 has accelerated the situation, but official information shows that only 26% of the retrenchments were Covid-19 related while the rest had to do with restructuring, realignment, redundancy, downsizing and closure.
But Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary Japheth Moyo said this could not be used as a true reflection considering that several job losses were not registered as a result of them being mutual terminations.
“The labour market information over the last 10-15 years shows that we are in a crisis. We do not know for sure how many people lose jobs every day. The labour market has no adequate mechanisms in place to capture job losses. What it means is that if you go to the ministry, they are not aware of companies that retrenched; go to NEC, it’s the same. What happens is that if parties agree to retrench the information is not registered. Sometimes it only comes to light when it spills into a dispute. You can’t get this information in one office.
“But the truth is that people are losing jobs every day,” he said.
Early this year, the World Bank in its report “Zimbabwe Economic Update (ZEU): Overcoming Economic Challenges, Natural Disasters, and the Pandemic: Social and Economic Impacts” said about 500 000 Zimbabweans had lost their jobs since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out last year igniting de-industrialisation.
Moyo said there was need to tighten labour laws regarding employment termination to compel employers to have somewhere to report any terminations for whatever reasons.
“My point is that the information doesn’t give the entire picture of job losses in the country. The reforms in labour legislation over the years as cemented by court interpretation of the law has allowed employers to terminate employment with ease and some of the job losses are neither captured by the retrenchment stats. Some of the terminations/ job losses are consented to and therefore not captured by labour market information services. Then comes the casual or fixed term contracts, these are very difficult to track and record,” he said.