By Professor Matodzi
Harare, February 24, 2016 – GRAIN Marketing Board (GMB) managers have pleaded with former employees to vacate company premises in Harare, adding the distressed state firm was still committed to meet all the demands of its axed workers if they returned to their homes.
Hordes of company ex-employees who lost their jobs through the controversial three months notice in August last year have been living in tents outside Dura House, the company’s head office.
The workers, who began their vigil 15 February, are reportedly owed up to 10 month’s salaries and have vowed to spend more days outside the company premises, something that has brought unease to company managers.
But is a Tuesday statement, GMB acting board chair Lawrence Jasi admitted the company owed over 1 200 of its former employees up to $4,7 million.
He said the country’s principal grain dealer was broke but pledged to settle the full amount in a space of 12 months if all the axed employees continue receiving $310 per month.
The company started paying the amounts in February and, basing on this amount, it would cost a monthly average of $338 330 to liquidate the full amount in 12 months.
“It is estimated that 40%of the employees would have been paid off within the next nine months and the remainder within the next twelve months,” Jasi said.
“To address some of the concerns of the workers, GMB has offered the following; that former workers that are still occupying GMB houses will continue staying in the houses until the salary arrears are paid in full.
“Transport allowance would be offered to workers who wish to relocate to their home areas.
“A commitment has been made to the former workers to reengage them for short time work on an in need basis in order to alleviate their plight.”
Jasi said the continued vigil by GMB former workers outside company premises was fast becoming a health risk as the employees do not have anywhere to relieve themselves having been denied access to ablution facilities.
“In light of this commitment, the continued stay of the former workers outside the GMB head office is now a cause of concern principally on account of potential health related issues associated mainly with their continued camping on the premises under unhygienic conditions,” said the GMB boss.
“The negative impact on the business is beginning to be experienced in terms of revenue loss and reputational risk.”
The GMB workers are part of an estimated 20 000 countrywide who lost their jobs following the July 17, 2015 Supreme Court interpretation of Common Law provisions which, at the time, allowed employers to terminate their workers’ jobs on three months’ notice.
Most workers who had served their companies for decades and were looking forward to hefty pension payments found themselves going home with a pittance, a far cry from what other former employees got before the ruling.
The job cuts were halted when parliament in September enacted a new law which set new conditions under which employees could be retrenched.