Power Sales retrenches

BULAWAYO - Bulawayo-based clothing giant At Ready Wholesalers, trading as Power Sales, says it’s facing viability challenges putting its more than 300 workforce at risk.

Power Sales people support executive Fanuel Mahachi, said the company was reducing its workforce to cut operational costs.

“The prevailing economic conditions coupled with some landlords cancelling our lease agreements have caused the closure of selected non-profitable stores. As a result the company has embarked on a right-sizing exercise that will see us shedding off non-performing shops. This exercise will affect some of our staff who will be offered voluntary separation packages,” said Mahachi.

Last week the company held meetings with the disgruntled workers to discuss their retrenchment packages.

Workers who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were concerned over their future at the company.

“We are really worried about the situation. We are not sure what the future holds for us as we might all find ourselves going home, jobless,” said one of the workers.

The workers said some had already been given three months basic pay as notice.

“Some of us were given forms and those who would have worked for a period of 10 years and below would be given one-month salary for every year served,” said another worker.

According to the forms one-week salary would also be given for continuous service to workers who have served the company for a period exceeding 10 years.

“The company also intends to give us one-month basic pay as a relocation allowance and a bonus of 50 percent pay,” said the workers.

The latest development comes hard on the hills of many clothing and textile companies  in Bulawayo such as Archer Clothing, Cotton Printers, Security Mills and National Blankets, having scaled down their operations while others have closed shop in recent years due to operational challenges.

Players in the industry have cited unfair competition posed by cheap imports as the major reason why they were struggling to remain in business.

The players in the industry say the combined impact of smuggling, especially of cheap Asian goods, a skewed duty and policy structure, including mounting labour costs, had negatively impacted on their operations. The companies also bemoaned failure to get capital to revive the industries as the major reason why they were closing down.

A total of 19 clothing companies in Bulawayo have closed before laying off thousands of workers in the last two years.

More than 80 companies have closed down in the city, once known as the hub of industry, in the past few years leaving about 20 000 workers jobless.

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