By Alois Vinga
THE ZIMBABWE Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called on government to urgently consider availing Covid-19 stimulus packages to distressed companies and save thousands of jobs in the long turn.
Presenting the workers’ response to the second Covid-19 wave, ZCTU secretary general, Japhet Moyo said government should urgently consider extending financial support to distressed business enterprises.
“Support to businesses also means protection of jobs threatened by direct and indirect disruption of businesses through the 30-day lockdown. Already, some of the companies are suffering from low capacity utilisation with some to as low as between 35 to 40% with the lockdown, further complicating their plight,” he said.
The labour body’s remarks come at a time when Zimbabwe has recorded 31,320 confirmed coronavirus cases and over 1 100 deaths.
In response to increased Covid-19 infections and deaths, the government instituted a new nationwide lockdown on January 5 with a curfew in effect from 6 pm to 6 am.
“A stimulus package for hardest hit sectors such as tourism, agriculture and manufacturing will ease the burden. Since the government already had the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund, this could be reactivated to support companies in distress as has been done in the past,” said Moyo.
He highlighted that access to the fund should be conditional and based on guarantees for job preservation and also to support the informal sector.
“This facility must be broadened to support the informal sector players taking into account their peculiar circumstances.”
He added that there is need to consider adopting a moratorium or freeze on retrenchments during the lockdown arguing that retrenchments would further contribute to socio-economic dislocations.