Cottco dragged to court

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Sixty-two Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco) employees retrenched last month have taken the company to court citing unfair dismissal.
The employees were sent packing in May and given strict instructions not to set foot on the company’s premises.
Their lawyer, Isheunopa Mataka, confirmed yesterday that legal proceedings would commence soon.
“We are taking legal action,” Mataka said. “Their dismissal was not legal. According to the Labour Act companies need to give notices before retrenching.
“But as it is, our clients were simply served with letters ordering them not to set foot on their places of work. They were told they were retrenched with immediate effect and without notice.”
“Retrenches are supposed to be given the chance to challenge and negotiate their packages, but Cottco has just shut them out.”
Cottco managing director David Machingaidze said the company was facing problems and had no option, but to retrench.
“The cotton ginning and textile industry faces viability challenges which have resulted in all three of the largest cotton ginners embarking on retrenchment programmes, largely as a result of the effects of dollarisation and side marketing on their cost base and, ultimately, competitiveness,” he said.
He said the retrenchment was procedural and according to the labour laws.
“Cottco retrenchment programme has been approved in line with the provisions of the labour regulations and all affected staff was paid in accordance with this approval,” said Machingaidze.
Retrenched employees said the company initially asked people to offer themselves for voluntary retrenchment, but after realising that very few people were willing to quit voluntarily, the company moved to forced retrenchment.
In a letter dated May 17 2010 addressed to one of the workers, the company advised that employees selected for retrenchment should stop reporting for duty.
“You are required not to report for duty from now onwards until the matter has been finalised,” reads part of the letter.