ZIMPHARM Private Limited has reportedly withheld salaries for 37 workers at its Bulawayo branch for the past two months to force them to accept voluntary exit packages.
Report by Silas Nkala
The pharmaceutical company is closing the branch and wants to give the workers between $2 000 and $3 000 each, including the money they are owed.
The Bulawayo branch is located in the Belmont industrial area.
Zimbabwe Chemical, Plastics and Allied Workers’ Union Bulawayo regional organising secretary Rabseck Mutero yesterday confirmed the standoff between the workers and ZimPharm.
Last week, management advised workers that the company would shut down last Friday, but later postponed the closure to yesterday.
Workers told NewsDay the company had already relocated some of its equipment to Harare.
“They are forcing workers to sign voluntary exit packages of between $2 000 and $3 000 which they say includes their September and October salaries,” Mutero said.
“We have since engaged the company’s finance director Patrick McCosh in Harare through our designated agent advising him that their process was illegal,” Mutero said.
Employees yesterday said they were told to continue working as the company’s closure had been postponed until further notice.
However, they said they had fears that their employer wanted to get rid of the permanent staff so as to start engaging contract workers next year.
Contacted for comment, McCosh confirmed that they would be closing their Bulawayo branch due to poor business. But he denied allegations they were refusing to pay workers their dues to arm-twist them into taking the voluntary exit packages.
“We were supposed to close today(yesterday), but it has not happened. As soon as we finish what we are doing, we will shut down,” McCosh said.
The development comes at a time when Bulawayo has recorded over 90 company closures since the 2008 hyper-inflationary period.