Early job cuts hold ZCTU spellbound

ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said it was not clear at the moment if there would be a job carnage in 2024.

THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said this week it cannot rule out further job cuts across sectors following announcements by big companies that they were reducing staff to tackle economic headwinds.

ZCTU secretary-general Japhet Moyo said it was not clear at the moment if there would be a job carnage in 2024. 

Zimbabwe’s economy is haemorrhaging under an inflation rate and currency fragilities that have seen companies announcing job cuts.

In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent following reports that Khayah Cement had made significant staff cuts last week, Moyo said trade unions were monitoring the situation.

He spoke as annual inflation increased to 55% in March, from 47,6% in February — the third straight month that the rate has surged, after kicking off at 38% in January.

The Zimbabwe dollar has crashed to about US$1:ZW$40 000 this week, from about US$1:ZW$14 000 in January, one of the fastest rates of currency decimation since the domestic unit’s return as the key medium of exchange in 2019.

“We have not seen much retrenchment across the sectors that we can raise an alarm,” he said.

“But anything is possible. We are in a very unpredictable environment and that has been the case over a period of time.

“We just keep our fingers crossed that what we have witnessed will not happen at other entities as well,” Moyo added.

Khayah, which is Zimbabwe’s second biggest cement producer, and platinum mining giants, Zimplats and Mimosa, have downsized their workforces.

But Moyo noted that the extent of job losses may not be measured accurately because many workers are now on fixed-term contracts.

When their contracts are terminated, they are not regarded as retrenchments.

“Casualisation has been a problem over a period of time because a number of workers are not permanently employed. They are on fixed-term contracts,” he said.

 “When we have so many people on fixed-term contracts, obviously the retrenchment does not apply.

“People merely lose out on contract renewals. At the moment I don't think it is possible to tell whether this is a nationwide crisis or an issue confined to cement, therefore we don't know how many jobs we are likely to lose by the end of the year.

“It is very difficult to tell how many companies are likely to retrench and how many people are going to lose their jobs through retrenchment; it is very difficult to tell at the moment.”

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