The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has retrenched 20 workers citing an increase in operational costs amid fears that more people could lose their jobs.
Executives from the five workers’ unions were allegedly targeted to be part of the 20 employees who were retrenched last week.
This comes after management and workers’ unions failed to reach an agreement over the retrenchments during a recent meeting.
The NRZ workers want a salary increment of more than 200% and that half of the salaries be paid in United States dollars.
Currently, the highest paid artisan is reportedly earning below the equivalent of US$200.
NRZ acting public relations manager Martin Banda told NewsDay that allegations of victimisation were untrue, saying the laying off of the workers was in response to rising costs. Banda said:
Seeking better working conditions cannot be an excuse for victimising and retrenching people.
It is a well-known fact that our economy is not doing well and as such everyone has a right to air their grievances at appointed platforms and collective bargain takes its course.
We are retrenching at present 20 employees who are considered as excess staff and currently sitting in the general manager’s pool.
This is unfortunate in that initially we had pledged that we were not going to retrench anyone except through natural attrition but due to major changes happening on the market including a rise in operational costs of business such as fuel and foreign currency availability which has been constrained.
We, therefore, could not continue to have people on the payroll who are redundant.
An unnamed senior manager also denied that the retrenched workers were being victimised. The manager was quoted as saying:
The affected employees belonged to what is called the general manager’s pool which was created for employees that have nothing to do after the restructuring exercise which we just completed. Where is the victimisation here?
These are people who have already been made redundant and as a management team, we can’t justify paying people who have been idle.
One locomotive will never be profitable if it is maintained by 300 artisans. Never.
At this rate, we were paying people who are not productive and eventually we would fail to pay those who are productive and the obvious would happen.