Two hundred workers who were retrenched by Hwange Colliery Company Limited last year are still on full pay and benefits 14 months after they were laid off. The workers were retrenched on September 30, 2011 and comprised managerial, technical and non-managerial staff. When contacted for comment, Hwange human resources manager Mr Fati Mpofu neither confirmed nor denied that the workers were still on full pay.
Mr Mpofu, however, referred all questions to Hwange Colliery spokesman Mr Burzil Dube, who could not be reached for comment.
Efforts to get a comment from the Hwange board chairman Mr Farai Mutamangira were also fruitless.
One of the retrenched managers who preferred anonymity on professional grounds, confirmed that he was still receiving his full salary since September 2011.
"'Technically speaking, I am still employed by Hwange Colliery until they pay me my retrenchment package. That is why I continue getting my full salary and benefits," he said.
Some of the senior personnel who were retrenched had served the company for more than 30 years and were close to retirement. According to an impeccable source, these included the underground manager, the divisional engineer, the hospital secretary and administrator, the mechanical foreman, engineering planning officer, materials manager and the carpentry workshop foreman. The source said that the decision to lay off the workers was taken by the previous board led by Mr Tendai Savanhu.
Initially, the plan was to lay off 700 workers, but the exercise was hampered by lack of funds.
"Reasons that were given by Hwange for the retrenchment were mechanisation, computerisation and re-training of personnel," said the source.
Last month, Hwange sealed a US$22 million supply credit deal with a Chinese company Norinco.
Under the supply credit arrangement, Hwange intents to acquire equipment worth US$40 million for underground and open cast mines and for a coal preparation plant.