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Employees fired over workers’ committee

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WORKERS at Our Lady of Sorrow, a Catholic Church-run primary school in Chegutu, are up in arms against their administration following the forced retrenchment of their colleagues over charges of forming a workers’ committee and joining a labour union.

CHARLES LAITON
SENIOR REPORTER

The workers said they no longer felt secure after the incident.

Workers’ committee chairperson Fungai Juma confirmed the development yesterday, saying four workers including him were recently served with retrenchment letters as “punishment” for joining trade unionism.

Juma said the school authorities, led by Sister Aurelia Rodrigues Nascimento, refused to pay retrenchment packages of between $6 000 and $7 000 prescribed by the labour union last October and instead offered to pay a paltry $1 100 to each of the affected workers.

“She retrenched us simply because we joined a labour union and discovered that we were being underpaid. After forming a workers committee, we communicated with the labour union and we were supplied with the information that led us to challenge our employer and as a result we were victimised,” Juma said.

“When we took our retrenchment matter to the labour union, they made some calculations of our packages and advised our employer of how much each of us is supposed to be paid, but our employer has come up with a different agreement which she wants us to sign, but we all refused.”

Some of the affected workers are Sehlile Sibanda, Karonga Handirigu and Kabengele Clayton.

A copy of the controversial agreement which was gleaned by NewsDay read in part: “The worker has agreed to receive the above amount ($1 100) for his complete retrenchment package for the years worked (January 2010 to December 2014) at Our Lady of Sorrows. The parties have agreed that no other party shall sue the other as this is their binding agreement.”

Contacted for comment last Friday, Nascimen to said she was driving and needed time to pull off the road and answer questions, but her mobile phone was later no longer reachable.

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