African Sun Cut Employees’ Salaries By 50% As COVID-19 Affects Operations

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

LEADING hotelier African Sun has cut salaries for most of its employees including executives and senior managers by 50% as the effects of COVID-19 take a toll on the hospitality industry.

Last week, due to unplanned cancellations on hotel bookings and restricted travel in light of the global outbreak of the pandemic, the leading hotelier closed 21 of its hotels and strategic business units around the country.

In an internal memo signed by the company’s acting human resources director, Believe Dirorimwe, and addressed to senior managers and staff, every affected employee’s salary will be cut by 50%.

“The balance and accrued salaries will be paid as and when the current ‘act of God’ has been contained and business has normalised,” wrote Dirorimwe in the internal memo.

“The other option should you not agree to the proposed salary cut and the other measures set out herein above, is the mutual suspension of contractual obligation on account of impossibility of same on the basis of ‘force majeure’ in the form of COVID-19 pandemic and the aforesaid Ministerial Order.

“If you are not part of the critical staff working from home, and have not filled a vacation leave form, you are deemed to be on paid vacation leave with effect from 30 March 2020 to 19 April 2020. The payment of the same will be in terms of the measures set out of order, please note this period may be extended.

“In the circumstance set out above, you are required to respond via email within 24 hours indicating that you have understood the measure by consent to the same. Failure to respond shall be deemed to be consent to the same.”

Dirorimwe said the new measures had been necessitated by the 21-day national lockdown order now in its second week and the COVID-19 pandemic, circumstances which left the company with no work to offer to employees.

He said the arrangement was to save the employees’ jobs and ensure that they had an income whilst at the same time mitigating the company’s risk of going out of business.

The 21 hotels that were closed last week include; Elephant Hills, Victoria Falls Hotel, The Kingdom Hotel, Makasa Sun and Sun Leisure Tours all in Victoria Falls. In Harare, the company has also closed Harare Casino, Monomotapa Hotel and Holiday Inn. Also closed was Hwange Safari Lodge in Dete, Carribbea Bay Resort in Kariba, Troutbeck Resort in Nyanga, Holiday Inn in Bulawayo and Great Zimbabwe Hotel in Masvingo.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and once contained, we will consider the reopening of some or all our strategic business units, hotels and resorts after the stipulated period of 21-day lockdown,” the company had said soon after the announcement of the shutdown.