Home » Industry » Hwange Denies Retrenchment Claims

Hwange Colliery Company Limited has denied that it retrenched its workforce that took the company for arbitration seeking to recover severance packages amounting to more than $1,2 million. About 16 workers and some managers were part of the 200 workers that were laid off in 2012 after HCCL embarked on a restructuring programme.

Through their lawyer, Mr Albert Chambati of Chambati and Mataka, the 16 took the matter for arbitration before Professor Lovemore Madhuku who is yet to decide on the issue.

However, HCCL in its response to claims by the 16 workers denied ever retrenching its workforce saying it only notified them of the proposal for retrenchment.

HCCL lawyers Mawere and Sibanda said following notices of intention to retrench, a series of meetings were held between the works council and the affected workers and an agreement on the retrenchment and terms were concluded in August 2012.

After the agreement, HCCL lawyers said, the Minister of Labour approved the proposed retrenchment and the decision was then communicated to the affected workers.

“Subsequent to the approval of the proposed retrenchment, respondent (HCCL) noted that it was not in the position to finance the retrenchment packages that had been approved by the minister,” read part of HCCL defence statement to the claim.

To this end, HCCL stated that affected workers were notified of the financial challenges it was facing to effect the retrenchment and continued to have them on the payroll.

“The respondent has been paying the claimants their salaries and benefits since September 2012. The claimants are still in occupation of the company houses allocated to them in terms of their contracts.

“This, the coal mining company said, the workers were receiving benefits which are consistent with an employer and employee relationship.

“In their claim, the 16 workers argued that after terminating their contracts of employment HCCL allegedly failed to pay them their severance packages on the agreed date in terms of the agreement signed by both parties.”

They said to date HCCL had not paid them their packages two years down the line. Mr Chambati said his clients’ only option to recover their packages was through a legal process hence the matter was taken for arbitration.

“The claimants have made numerous attempts to meet with the respondent to ensure it pays them their retrenchment packages. However, the respondent has simply ignored the claimants and refused all attempts to resolve the matter,” said Mr Chambati in the papers filed in the Arbitral Tribunal under case Number 318 14.

In June 2012, HCCL wrote to 200 workers informing them that the implementation of the company’s re-engineering and restructuring programme supported by the ERP technology resulted in the company having excess labour requirements.

In this case the selected workers were declared redundant and excess to the requirements of the coal mining giant.

Source : The Herald