28 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Retirees Get U.S.$40

GLENDALE Spinners retirees are getting retirement packages of US$40 each after the company wound down its pension scheme following the adoption of the multiple-currency system in 2009.

The Herald recently caught up with some of the retirees, Mr Alfred Chiwandiro, Mr Alpha Sabawu, Mr Pointer Muwongerwa and Mr Windroz Jimu who had served the company since 1988. They had only been given a week's wages of US$40 on retirement at the age of 65.

Director of the company Mr Bruce Dorward, however, said the workers were getting what was gazzetted by the National Employment Council for the textile industry.

"The textile industry is in deep distress. It has contracted and is not operating viably. We follow the laws of the country when we make the payments. If the retired workers are not happy with the packages they should take the matter up with the labour court. The company's pension scheme was wound up at the transition from the Zimbabwe dollar to the current currencies and it was done legally," said Mr Dorward yesterday.

He said it was not a legal requirement for companies to operate pension schemes adding that some companies did not have such schemes. The workers' argument is that they had contributed to the company's sustenance during the difficult times of the economic meltdown.

They said they were supposed to have part of their pensions that they contributed through Old Mutual converted from the Zimbabwe dollar to the current multiple-currencies.

One of the retirees, Mr Chiwaridzo said the company was pretending to be in distress.

"The company must not pretend that it is not making profits. They were operating viably even during the difficult economic times as they export the bulk of their products and only send a small fraction to Kadoma Textiles.

"Management is just insensitive. They have been like that even during Ian Smith's time and they have even turned worse now. There are some that have worked for the company during both the colonial and post colonial Zimbabwe and they will tell you that nothing has changed even with the attainment of independence," he said.

The workers also alleged that they were getting US$40 every week in wages, which translated into US$160 per month.

One worker who is still with the company and refused to be named complained that management did not care about their welfare but just wanted their job done.

"Can you imagine- rentals are pegged between US$25 and US$50 per room here while primary schools are charging fees of about US$35 per term with the secondary schools charging US$95 per term.

"This means that we cannot send our children to school or make any personal developments using the wages we are earning. To make matters worse at retirement when you expect a reasonable package, they give you US$40," he said.

He also alleged that they were not given safety clothing at work yet their day-to-day activities involved spinning and wrapping yarn which generated a lot of dust while they also did not have helmets for protection against yarn cones.

Among some of the workers' grievances is the fact that the company has no human resources department.

The financial department is reportedly responsible for all the recruitment and did not even care to see how the workers were faring.

When The Herald visited the company last week, the financial director who identified himself as Mr Ngoshi said he did not want to speak to the press.

He referred all questions to Mr Dorward.

Glendale Spinners started as Gatooma Spinners in 1981 and changed to the current name years into independence.

Its core business is spinning and weaving cotton yarn.

At the peak of production the company employed about 800 permanent workers with casual labour taking the figures to above 1000.

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