TelOne Dumps Over 400 Grade 7 Employees

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By Alois Vinga

FIXED telecommunications operator, TelOne is in the process of laying off 423 of its workers, the majority of whom still had Grade 7 and Zimbabwe Junior Certificate (ZJC) as highest qualification in their CVs.

The state firm is keen on having technologically skilled employees in its payroll to match a highly competitive digital world.

The affected employees have, through their unions, raised the red flag against what they find to be an unfair labour decision surrounding their fate.

But company head of corporate communications, Melody Harry told Friday the workers being targeted for the chop did not possess even Ordinary Level qualifications and the relevant technological skills required to turn around the company’s fortunes.

“TelOne is transforming into a digital entity in line with its new strategic thrust. For this drive to succeed, relevant skills and qualifications emerged as the main driver of the company strategy.

“As such, individuals whose skills set were rendered redundant in line with global technological demands and digitalisation market trends are the ones who were affected.

“The affected individuals have Grade 7 and ZJC as their highest educational qualification,” she said.

Documents gleaned by show that as early as 2016, the now affected workers were advised to upgrade their qualifications to a minimum of Ordinary Level but failed to do so for one reason or another.

However, Communication Workers Union of Zimbabwe (CWUZ) secretary general, Mbuso Jubane accused the employer of foul play alleging the exercise was not being undertaken procedurally.

He accused the employer of violating section 85 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe which provides for the Enforcement of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

The union leader also said TelOne has over the years been making sure that workers’ basic salaries remained low while just increasing allowances.

“That low basic salary is being used to calculate retrenchment packages. The payment must reflect the net value which the employee was being paid.

“The process is violating section 65 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to fair and safe labour practices,” he said.

The union also accuses the employer of not implementing measures to avoid retrenchment as required at law.

CWUZ is challenging the composition of the workers’ council meeting which they say was defective as it included other individuals who did not sit in the works council.

The union added that they were finding it difficult to accept the reasons behind the retrenchments because the information was not transparently being shared.