The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Haddon Motors in Violent Demo

HADDON Motors workers yesterday staged a demonstration that later turned violent after learning that the company, which had initially sought to retrench them, had been granted a provisional liquidation order at the High Court.

The provisional liquidation order appeared in a legal notice in last Friday's issue of this paper.

According to the notice, Haddon Motors - which has been in existence for 60 years -- applied at the High Court for a provisional liquidation order, which was granted last Wednesday.

The irate workers, who were waving placard demanding their dues, first wanted to be addressed by the company's chairman Mr Stewart Haddon who snubbed them and took refuge in his office.

They responded by deflating all the directors' vehicles before scribbling them with graffiti demanding their dues.

Police later attended the scene and held a meeting with the company's management and the workers' committee.

A director of the company Mr John Muller refused to comment on the demonstration saying that the courts were handling the issue.

The workers' committee chairman Mr Brian Chimudimu said that they were caught unaware by the provisional liquidation application.

"We saw this coming as our employer has failed to address our grievances for the past three years, claiming that the company was making successive losses," he said.

He added that they were concerned when the employer made a commitment to pay the workers their dues after next year's harmonised elections.

Mr Chimudimu said this has led them to believe that the employers were anticipating a certain outcome in the elections.

"We are also concerned that we'll also lose our pension contributions as our follow up to Old Mutual yielded nothing, yet we had been contributing," he said.

"We later learnt that the pensions were being deposited into Mr Haddon's trust fund," he added

Provisional liquidation involves the appointment by a Court of a liquidator to a company for the period between the filing of the application to wind up the company and the Court hearing the application.

Haddon Motors is part of a group that comprise Colenso Investments, Warren Investments, Haddon Mottors Management and Haddon Motors Trustees.

The company initially issued the workers with a "Mutual Agreement to Terminate Employment," but the workers refused to sign the agreements citing the poor packages that were being offered.

The company was offering a three months notice pay, relocation allowance and one month salary.

The workers made their retrenchment offer which the company rejected.

The workers allege that the company was still viable and they were willing to run it under the provisions of the country's indigenisation laws.

Haddon Motors used to have a distribution contract with General Motors of South Africa, which supplied them with brand new Isuzu trucks.

According to the workers, these vehicles were sold in foreign currency when the Zimbabwe dollar was still the legal tender. However, the contract has since been given to Auto World after Haddon Motors allegedly fell short of GM's expectations.

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