Zimpost has fired almost 200 workers, taking advantage of the recent Supreme Court judgment that empowered employers to fire workers after giving them three months’ notice. The State enterprise joined several companies that have also dismissed employees using the same judgment. Sources at Zimpost said 200 employees were sent packing, but the company’s managing director Mr Douglas Zimbango yesterday put the figure at 136.
He said the affected employees included contract workers, while others were forced to take early retirement packages.
“The letters (three months’ notices) were only given to 136 employees,” said Mr Zimbango.
“Among these, 61 were on contract and their contracts were not renewed. Another 50 affected employees were above 55 years of age and were given early retirement and they are going to receive their packages and pensions.”
Mr Zimbango said the dismissal of the employees was largely necessitated by technological advancements in the postal sector, which did not allow them to accommodate large numbers of workers.
He urged some of the affected employees to engage in franchise business using the Zimpost logo.
In the event that the economy stabilises, Mr Zimbango said, such people would be given first preference for employment.
“We have encouraged our employees to run franchise business in technical aspects that are in line with postal business,” he said.
“Those are the people who we will consider first for employment if the economy stabilises,” he said.
The firing of workers by Zimpost comes at a time when the Labour Bill that seeks to protect employees from unilateral dismissals by employers has sailed in the National Assembly and is set to be read in the Senate today.
Clause 5 of the Bill says those who lose jobs on contract termination are entitled to minimum retrenchment benefits that include one month’s salary for every two years of service.
This will apply to both retrenchees in general and workers whose contracts were terminated on or after July 17.
Section 12 (4a) prohibits employers from terminating an employment contract on notice unless such termination is in terms of an employment or model code.
It also makes termination possible where both parties mutually agree in writing, or if the employee was engaged for a fixed period. Workers with open-ended contracts and whose employment is terminated in terms of subsection 4(a) will be eligible for compen- sation.
Labour unions say that more than 20 000 workers have lost their jobs since the July 17 Supreme Court ruling,.
Meanwhile, Zanu-PF has accused MDC-T MPs of trying to delay passage of the Labour Amendment Bill when they called for amendments to the Bill despite an earlier agreement to fast-track the proposed law, writes Senior Reporter Farirai Machivenyika.
Zanu-PF Chief Whip Cde Joram Gumbo (Mberengwa West) said actions by his MDC-T counterpart, Mr Innocent Gonese (Mutare Central), to try to introduce the amendment after the Bill had passed the Committee Stage would delay its passage.
“Our objective was to curb the spree of dismissals that we are witnessing and if we had gone the MDC-T route, it would have taken us more time to pass the Bill,” he said.
“To us, it was a strategy to delay passage of the Bill because they would want the chaos of dismissals to continue and make the country ungovernable. We are now fully aware of their tactics.”
Mr Gonese denied that their actions would have delayed passage of the amendments.
“We have no intentions of delaying the Bill, but our proposals were meant to strengthen the Bill. The role of Parliament is to legislate and not to simply rubber-stamp and the chairperson of committee (Cde Reuben Marumahoko) should have allowed us to present them for the minister to consider,” said Mr Gonese.
“There is no way we can delay the Bill, but what we simply want is to strengthen it for the good of the workers,” he said.
Mr Gonese said they wanted to make proposals for the amendment of the Bill’s clauses 4, 5 and 14.
“The clauses that we want amended include clauses 4, 5 and 14. In Clause 4 we want it amended by inserting a clause that specifically states that the common law right of an employer to unilaterally terminate a contract of employment is null and void,” he said.
He said they wanted Clause 14 of the Bill that allows the minister to reject a collective bargaining process that he or she considered not to be in the public interest, repealed.