TELECOMS and financial services behemoth, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, has cut workers’ salaries by 35 percent as it feels the impact of the country’s economic slide.
The development sees the company, one of the few major corporates still relatively healthy in the country, join private sector peers in introducing tough cost-cutting measures to survive a tough economy.
Last month Econet reported a 41 percent decline in after-tax profit for the year-ended February 2015, blaming a government-decreed voice tariff cut as well as taxes on airtime and mobile handsets.
Management said then that the taxes had adversely impacted the viability of the telecoms sector, warning that this would affect employment creation.
“The company has had to cut capital expenditure, and stop further employment creation for the first time since it began operations.
“Econet is one of the largest employers in the country, both directly and indirectly, and is concerned about the job losses that now look to be inevitable,” the company said in a statement.
Sources at the giant firm told NewZimbabwe.com that chief executive officer, Douglas Mboweni, addressed staff last Thursday on new cost-cutting measures.
These include the pay cut, reduction of working hours and a voluntary retrenchment exercise.
“Things are not well at Econet,” said one insider. “We have been told that we now work five to six hours a day and that if you are not agreeable to it, you can leave.
“There is a package for those who would rather leave. But things are really not well.”
Neither Mboweni nor group spokesperson, Ranga Mberi, could be reached for comment.
Employees however, said the troubled economy was affecting Econet along with the advent of cheaper mobile phone applications such as WhatsApp.
“The other option is for workers to work three days a week and to increase the number of attaches who are paid less.
“Currently, the company’s call centre is largely dominated by students who are on attachment and are paid less although they carry out the same duties as permanent employees,” the source said.
Zimbabwe’s 15-year-long economic crisis has forced the closure of hundreds of companies with thousands of workers left jobless.
Many of those firms still operating are barely managing to stay afloat and, in many cases, have failed to pay workers for several months.Advertisement
The stock market-listed Econet was among the few corporates that were still fairly competitive and paying salaries on time. But it now appears the inclement economic weather will not spare this blue chip stock either.