COLD Storage Company (Ltd), a beef producer with refrigerated warehousing, has downscaled its operations and put its employees on a “short time” work schedule under which they will now be paid based on the actual number of “man-hours” worked.
BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
The State-owned company, which requires between $60 million and $100m to recapitalise, reportedly owes its board, staff and management millions of dollars in unpaid wages, allowances and sitting fees.
Currently CSC has a debt overhang of over $25 million. This was due to a host of challenges such as inadequate working capital, cattle diseases and decline in the commercial herd, huge foreign debt, high staff turnover and an old transport fleet.
A letter dated August 20, 2018 from the director of human resources Moses Mrewa to members of staff, announced that the Short Time work system would come into effect on September 1, 2018.
“The above shall apply to all CSC employees without exception,” read the letter.
“Accordingly, with effect from 1 September 2018, salary payments shall be based on input uploaded from time sheets. It is, therefore, incumbent on everyone to ensure that his/her reporting and knocking off times are accurately recorded.
“Equally so, those charged with the responsibility of recording time sheets are implored to execute this task diligently.”
CSC chief executive officer Ngoni Chinogaramombe, who initially promised to talk to this paper concerning the matter, did not respond to repeated calls to his phone in the past one week.
The ‘Short Time’ system was adopted as a resolution at a meeting of CSC National Works Council held August 8 where both management and representatives of employees discussed the financial position of the company and its operations.
A 2016 audit report indicated that about 30 CSC managers were owed close to $300 000, while 150 shop floor workers were owed $715 000 in unpaid salaries since 2009.
In May 2014, CSC workers staged a demonstration, demanding their outstanding salaries and claiming they had last been paid in full in 2009.
At the time, the workers claimed that wage arrears were about $10 000 accrued over three years.
The 2016 audit report also revealed that top executives at the company were involved in a top-of-the-range company vehicles deal, which they reportedly bought for a song, prejudicing the parastatal of over $143 000.
The vehicles were procured by the company in 2011 and sold to senior managers the following year.