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Lay Offs Intensify as Zimbabwean Employers Ignore Gov't Pleas

President Robert Mugabe under pressure to stop retrenchments.

A Cabinet appeal to companies to end the massive retrenchment of workers in Zimbabwe has been largely ignored, forcing President Robert Mugabe Friday to call for an urgent meeting with Labour Minister Priscah Mupfumira on how to avert further job losses.

Details of the meeting were not immediately available but government insiders say the issue of a statutory instrument using Presidential Temporary measurers was on the table.

In a statement after Thursday’s Cabinet meeting, Mupfumira said the government had resolved to amend the relevant provisions of the Labour Act in the shortest possible time to restore equilibrium in the market.

More than 3,000 workers have been retrenched since the Supreme Court last Friday ruled that employers could fire employees without retrenchment packages after giving them a three-month notice.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president, George Nkiwane, says he is worried that the retrenchments have intensified.

“There is an escalation on the retrenchments. To us termination of a contract on dismissal is the same thing,” said Nkiwane.

He said his union has been holding consultation meetings with the government on the way forward, adding failure to produce a result will see the umbrella workers’ body mobilizing the workers to protest.

Most companies in the country a are operating well below 39 percent of capacity utilization and were hard hit by the liquidity crunch, viability problems, and stiff competition from imports.

Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, owners of The Daily News, retrenched some 11 journalists and about nine non-editorial workers Thursday.

One of the retrenched journalists lloyd mbiba says he was pained by the way the layoffs at his worplace came.

“It is very, very unfortunate and to me that was bogus,” said Mbiba. “I was one of the hardest working reporters at The Daily News so I was shocked that how come I was sacrificed. I felt there was an underhand involved. Nonetheless I have accepted the fate. If God has said this will happen, it will happen. I have accepted it and am moving forward.”

Chief executive officer and executive director at Econet Wireless Douglas Mboweni did not return calls.

In a statement in response to Studio 7, ANZ confirmed the retrenchments saying they were caused by viability problems owing to the current harsh economic environment in Zimbabwe.