Home » General » Where Will the Retrenched Workers Go?

Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation Zim Asset could not have come at any better time than now when the nation needs guidance on how to tackle the economic meltdown that followed a barrage of illegal economic sanctions imposed on the country.

It is, however, unfortunate that there seem to be some sectors that have decided to go against this noble national policy barely a year after its adoption as the national economic development blueprint.

One then wonders what really is going on. Zviri kumbonyatsofamba sei?

News filtering from Hwange Colliery Company Limited is that it is planning to shed off 1 500 workers, rendering jobless hundreds of people at a time when the nation is starting to regain its touch. This is not the best news that our country would want to hear at the moment. It actually puts a damper on the workers.

Where will these workers go if they are retrenched? Is there no other way that the company can protect these workers? Surely, there should be a way.

From my understanding, the lowest paid workers earn about $200. This amount does not include transport or accommodation allowances because they stay in company houses and foot to work or are carried by company transport.

The majority of these workers have gone for more than 13 months without pay, that paltry amount of $200.

Government is a shareholder at HCCL and should come up with ways to save this one time giant firm?

The workers have been with this giant mining firm for years, their children, wives and other relatives know it as their employer. A majority of children there really do not perform well in school because they know they can always get a job at the company next door.

Hwange Colliery Company, for all I know, did a great job by investing in staff accommodation for its workers and that is the reason why employees do not mind even when the company fails to pay them their salaries for such long time. Small mines are performing better than our former giant, which continues to experience countless breakdowns.

Over the years, the company has had these workers to sustain it to be where it is today but you hear shareholders, through the board chairman, wanting to retrench half of its staff so the company can recapitalise and operate profitably.

While the company needs to operate profitably, workers also need to sustain their families. There must be a balance somehow. Some of the workers have been with the company for more than 35 years and telling them today that they are going to be jobless and to leave the company houses, which they literally regard as home, is going to be very challenging.

There comes a time in a worker’s life when one has to plan ahead for the future, and that time is now for Hwange Colliery workers. While it might be a little too late but the retrenchments packages, if properly utilised, will see someone getting a good head start depending on which business venture one will adopt.

The sad reality, however, is that for the 13 or so months that these workers have gone without pay, they were certainly borrowing money they were using from somewhere, where they were most probably and certainly being charged interest per month.

It might not be surprising to find that someone will walk away from the mine empty-handed after servicing the debt which accrued over the time and this will certainly put a strain on the worker.

If not properly managed this situation will see many workers dying early because of stress related illness. The majority might have been so relaxed as not to build their own houses somewhere just because they had free accommodation at their workplace.

Considering the weather in Hwange, there is not much that people can do upon retirement from work such as farming.

The most likely job will be venturing into tourism, which to my understanding, is also oversubscribed.

That’s when the various strategies given in one of my earlier instalments on retirement come into play. In as much as this might appear sudden, the workers were already anticipating such a move and they surely have something on their minds about what they want to do upon being retrenched.

While it might sound western to a majority of workers, investment in unit trusts might be a good idea. I just hope the company human resources department will first conduct counselling to interested workers on the few tips they might use to ensure a smooth flow of life after retrenchment.

Source : The Herald