Zesa contract workers fight retrenchment

Over 500 contract workers employed by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, are contesting what they termed “illegal and unprocedural” retrenchment without benefits after having served the power utility for more than five years.

The workers on Tuesday converged at the Zesa northern region’s Megawatt House headquarters in Chinhoyi demanding an audience with general manager Shepherd Dadi, who declined to address them, but reportedly made a false police report that the nearly 100 workers gathered had turned riotous.

The police report resulted in the arrest and detention of Zimbabwe Technical Employees’ Association (ZTEA) national executive member Captain Mavhura, who was later released without charge.

Dadi refused to talk to NewsDay when contacted for comment.

ZTEA secretary-general Thomas Masvingwe said the affected workers, mostly loss control officers, had served as contractors since 2005 and a Labour Court arbitrator’s award issued last year had declared them permanent employees, although Zesa, which had sought to retrench, twice appealed against the outcome, but lost.

Zesa, Masvingwe said, would on January 31 2012 terminate all contracts notwithstanding the arbitral award. He described the move as illegal and a total disregard of the country’s labour laws.

“The company has been practising short-term employment for a protracted period and as a labour union we have realised Zesa wants to continue with this trend to avoid responsibilities associated with full-time employment such as the employer’s contribution to pension fund, non-contributory medical aid and fringe benefits like electricity allowances,” Masvingwe said.

He said the targeted employees would continue to report for duty as the contract termination notices were “null and void”.

“The notices are a nullity. Workers will continue to come for work guarding strategic public installations which are currently being exposed to vandalism and pilferage. We will continue to engage Zesa management until we resolve the matter,” he said.

Masvingwe alleged some corrupt Zesa bosses were pushing for the hiring of private security companies in which they had business interests in lieu of employing full-time loss control officers.

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