4 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Crest Explains Short Working Hours

The Crest Poultry Group says the introduction of short working hours at its divisions -- Suncrest Chickens and Crest Breeders International -- was a result of viability challenges. CPG is a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed agro-processing company, CFI Holdings.

More than 700 workers at Crest Breeders and Suncrest Chickens last week staged a peaceful demonstration to protest against the reduced working hours.

The workers argued they were not consulted on the changes.

But in an interview yesterday, CPG managing director Dr Tapera Mpezeni said the workers were duly consulted before the working hours were cut.

"Besides appropriately consulting with the workers, we also gave an advance notice that the short working hours would be introduced from December 1, 2012," said Dr Mpezeni.

"Maybe during the consultations, the workers did not fully understand the impact this would have on their remuneration."

He also denied allegations that the workers had worked for the whole of December and needed to be paid accordingly.

Dr Mpezeni said despite being informed of the short working time, some workers kept on reporting for duty full-time even though they were not engaged in productive work.

"Since this was our first month of introducing short working hours, we admit that mistakes could have been made in a few cases concerning remuneration," he said.

"We advise all those with such genuine complaints to approach their supervisors so that they can be compensated."

He defended the company's decision on short working hours, saying it was due to financial difficulties as evidenced by low chicken slaughter and late payment of salaries.

Dr Mpezeni said everyone - including management and himself - had been placed on short working time.

Last year, CFI received US$2,6 million in loans from Afreximbank and the Government's Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund.

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