Zimbabwe: Massive Retrenchments in First 2014 Quarter

MORE than 1 300 workers have been retrenched across various sectors of the economy in the first quarter of 2014, business digest has established.

The continued decline in the economy, characterised by a severe liquidity crunch, has spawned company closures and massive retrenchments which threatens both the formal sector and the government's tax base.

Sources within the Retrenchment Board said the mining sector has shed off 400 workers during the quarter, recording the highest number of retrenched workers. The furniture sector has also been heavily affected retrenching 349 workers. The security sector has offloaded 93 workers.

Agriculture considered one of the main pillars of the economy has let go of 61 employees with cement, motor, timber and engineering sectors retrenching 59, 56, 52 and 48 workers respectively, sources revealed.

The banking sector, which is gripped by the debilitating liquidity crunch and a high non performing loan ratio, has retrenched 32 workers during the period.

Other sectors which have retrenched workers during the first quarter, the sources said, include communications (28), catering (25), energy (19), food and allied(13) and printing (13). The total number of employees retrenched in the first quarter, sources said, adds up to 1 309.

Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe executive director John Mufukare said the increasing number of retrenchments "has gone beyond frightening proportions."

"The situation has become completely unsustainable," Mufukare said. "If this does not constitute a crisis, I honestly do not know what does. We must find a way of arresting this development."

He said there was a immediate need for government; business and labour to sit down and agree on finding ways to save the haemorrhaging of jobs.

This is in addition to a July 2013 National Social Security Authority (Nssa) Harare Regional Employer Closures and Registrations Report for the period July 2011 to July 2013 which shows that 711 companies in Harare closed down, rendering 8 336 individuals jobless.

Meanwhile, partners in the Tripartite Negotitating Forum (TNF) were scheduled to have met yesterday.

The TNF is a social dialogue platform that brings together government, business and labour to negotiate over key socio-economic matters.

It has been in existence since 1998 as a voluntary and unlegislated chamber in which socio-economic matters are discussed and negotiated over by the social partners.

The TNF meet for the first time in nearly two years. One of the participants who requested anonymity said various issues were to be discussed at the meeting including the contentious issue of labour law reforms.

The meeting comes just before the 103rd session of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Labour Conference to be held in Geneva Switzerland. The conference begins on Wednesday and ends on the 12th of June.

Zimbabwe will send a tripartite delegation comprising labour and business representatives. The delegation will be led by Labour minister Nicholas Goche.

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