The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has lamented the continued impoverishment of employees saying workers will face a gloomy festive season with their miseries set to spill over into 2021.
Most workers did not get their traditional annual bonuses while a vast majority lost their jobs this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic as industries downsized while some are not paying salaries for the remaining employees.
In an interview Thursday, the ZCTU Western Region chairperson, Ambrose Sibindi said most companies were operating far below the expected standards.
“Most of the industries operating, in terms of production, are around 50 or so percent, but some are totally closed and some have subdivided their premises. You get in and find that there are some indigenous people who have been given some space to operate,” he said.
“From the outside you may think that the factory is operating and when you get in you get the shock of your life, that there are three or four small companies operating within, so the owners of the company rely on rent to survive. But generally the situation is very bad.”
He said a number of companies closed last week Friday for the festive season while more would shut down this Friday.
However, the ZCTU was worried that more companies would fail to reopen in the New Year rendering thousands of workers jobless.
“This is because some of the workers were told they are closing and will be informed when to comeback for work next year. That situation is very dicey and shows there is a potential that industries may fail to open,” Sibindi said.
“The festive season is just there by name in terms of the remuneration of workers. The majority of them went home with very little and when you talk of bonus it’s not consistent. Normally, the bonus is considered as the 13th cheque, meaning to say you are supposed to get what is equivalent to what you have been getting. But we are getting information that some were given 40%, some as little as 30% as their bonus while some did not receive anything, which means things are not all right.”
Sibindi said in other sectors workers were promised to get bonus in installments spilling into next year defeating the purpose of the bonus, which was meant to assist employees during festive season.
He said some were given 20% this month as bonus and were promised to be given the remaining next year.
Sibindi also accused some employers of hiding behind the Covid-19 pandemic and diverting profits made.
“Some companies are charging in foreign currency but still pay their workers using the local currency and they hide behind the Covid-19 issue, taking advantage of the situation to cheat their workers,” he said.
The trade unionist added that based on the current projections, the year 2021 certainly looks gloomy unless the government improves the economic systems.