By Alois Vinga
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has dismissed recent findings by the country’s leading industry lobby group arguing that the data fell short of capturing the true picture obtaining on the ground.
The remarks come shortly after the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) released its 2020 Manufacturing Survey report which established that 14 % companies retrenched workers in the previous year due to Covid-19 related pressures.
“Coping mechanisms for companies that did not retrench include shifts, salary reduction, adjusting benefits to avoid retrenchment.
“Reasons for retrenchment were low-capacity utilisation, low demand, to cope with Covid-19 induced challenges and technological improvements,” the survey revealed.
But speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Friday, ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo said the findings did not show the entire picture in the job markets.
“These are meaningless statistics because they don’t capture all job losses. Over the years, the employers have casualised jobs or most jobs are on fixed term contracts and when such employment is shed, it is not captured in the studies of people retrenched.
“Therefore, 14% might appear moderate or low while in reality, more contracts are terminated at the end of the term without compensation because people on fixed term contracts cannot be retrenched,” he said.
The trade union chief expressed fears that thousands of workers in the country have been thrown into abject poverty due to Covid-19 induced job losses.
When the country went on the first Covid-19 lockdown last year, big retail companies and tourism sector players among others, targeted contract workers and students on attachment whose contracts were terminated in a bid to cut down on operating costs.
“Even at zero percent retrenchment, it might not mean no job losses.
“Retrenchment statistics capture people who are in permanent employment and when being laid off, they receive retrenchment or severance packages,” he said.
Moyo added that at the moment, the majority of workers were on fixed term contracts and they did not require notice or payment of retrenchment packages.
Last year, Labour Minister Paul Mavima made it clear that the government was not going to force companies to pay workers for time spent off production urging that any resolution must be arrived at through negotiated dialogue between parties.