by Mthokozisi Ndlovu
The Ministry of Labour and Social Services approved the retrenchment of 1 681 workers nationwide from January to September this year, amid revelations from workers representatives that most employees retrenched during the last four years have not been paid their retrenchment packages.
This brings to over 6 100 the total number of workers the ministry has approved to be retrenched in less than two years countrywide.
However, an economic commentator said the number of retrenched workers and those sent on unpaid leave far exceeds the Ministry’s figures.
In an interview, the regional officer of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Mr Percy Mcijo said before retrenching, many companies start by failing to pay the salaries and after retrenching they fail to pay both the outstanding salaries and the retrenchment packages.
He said due to economic hardships in urban areas, most retrenched workers end up going to rural areas or dying without getting their retrenchment packages.
“Workers end up like slaves. They are promised salaries and retrenchment packages which they do not get,” noted Mr Mcijo.
He said ZCTU has tried in vain to speak to the Minister of Labour and Social Service and the Minister of Industry and Commerce to resolve the issue of companies failing to pay the retrenchment packages.
“Most companies retrench without following the law and the workers are not paid their packages.
“The Government should intervene and companies should be forced to follow the law and pay the workers,” said Mr Mcijo.
The national organising secretary of the Zimbabwe Furniture Timber and Allied Trade Union, Mr Killion Masuku said it is difficult for the workers to find employment after being retrenched.
He said in a bid to support their families, the retrenched workers turn to the informal sector for employment to “sell same commodities”.
An economic commentator, Dr Eric Bloch questioned the reliability of the Ministry of Labour and Social Services’ figures saying the number of retrenched workers and those forced to go on unpaid leave was between 15 000 and 20 000
He said during the first half of next year, many companies will continue struggling to pay the retrenchment packages.
However, he said the situation will improve in the second half of next year mostly due to the holding of the elections.
“In the second six months of next year I expect things to change because by then post elections the first step for a substantial recover will be commenced even though it would be long and slow,” said Dr Bloch.
He said due to the economic recovery expected after the holding of general elections, companies will in the second half of next year stop retrenching and as from 2014 onwards start employing more workers.
Dr Eric Bloch[podcast]http://www.radiodialogue.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Bloch.mp3[/podcast]