Workers reject retrenchment deal

HARARE - Employees at the government-run National Pharmaceutical Company of Zimbabwe (NatPharm) have rejected a proposed retrenchment deal — adamant that the drug procurement agency was still solvent.

The Medical Professionals and Allied Union (MPAU) — which represents the employees — was initially told by the Labour Court to enter into negotiations with NatPharm, which has served the Retention Board with a notice of intention to retrench 51 employees from its six branches to pave way for a new structure on the backdrop of improved technology which had rendered some employees redundant.

Lodged in September last year, the notice was supposed to be acted up on in two weeks, but the dispute has rumbled on since, with workers insisting the firm was not faced with any cyclic economic downturn, nor a downfall, and there were  no valid reason for laying off workers.

MPAU argues that no insolvent company can afford to buy luxurious cars and expensive gadgets for its top managers.

This comes as the struggling pharmaceutical company purchased seven Toyota Hilux vehicles plus a single Toyota Prado worth $309 798.

“While it is true that employer’s business has shifted focus from ‘normal trading’ to handling donations, it is clear that NatPharm revenue has continued to rise steadily,” MPAU said in its court submissions.

“No measures to avoid retrenchment have been implemented, this is a clear breach of labour law.”

NatPharm is a procurement agency for the ministry of Health and Child Welfare and is the first port of call for medicines and other medical supplies. NatPharm was created through an Act of Parliament, the Government Medical Stores (Commercialisation Act 2000), to take over the functions of the former Government Medical Stores (GMS).

It officially took over the functions of GMS on October 1, 2001 and was established as an autonomous not-for-profit organisation, registered in terms of Section 26 of the Companies Act (Chapter 24:03).

It is 100 percent government-owned.

Workers argue NatPharm has been recording positive accounts since 2011, recording a 29 percent growth in cash flows.

The employees have approached Zanu PF parliamentary chief whip Joram Gumbo and deputy Health minister Paul Chimedza seeking mediation on the issue.

Chimedza said he was awaiting feedback from a Natpharm board meeting.

Florence Sifeko, NatPharm managing director, said the firm has been going through a rough patch.

“We have not paid them February salaries because there was no money but will acknowledge we still have an obligation to pay,” she said. 

Rolland Mlalazi, the financial manager,  said NatPharm was posting “paper profits”, as its biggest client government was struggling to fulfil its obligations.

Walter Nhau, the human resources manager,  said the vehicles purchased were part of contractual agreements between the employer and employees who benefitted.

“In fact there was a two-year delay as we did not have the money,” he said. “Some are yet to receive theirs.”

Comments (4)

the delay was caused by non availability of funds but now funds are there u want to retrench HRM having bought luxury cars we a u up to

cde chaperachapera - 10 March 2014

The whole issue revolves around the corruption taking place within the management of this parastatal. if the truth be told, the company is fanancially stable and is affording all the perks for the management at the expense of the laid off workers. The HR manager is a cheat misleading the MD and also handpicking pple he has no good relations with. To ask, how did he come with the list of pple to be retrenched when the top management has not been touched? Why employ pple in the same positions pple are being laid off. This whole issue is just to benefit the idle MD and her few cronies. This is one parastatal that needs to be investigated thoroughly for fraudulent activities within the top management. No paper profits are being posted. Why layoff pple to raise funds for the top of the range vehicles when the company is posting paper profits? This is a gvt entity not some person's private thing that you just wake up from your slumber and say l want a retrenchement. So if the pple affected did not get their Feb salaries howdo you expect them to live? David Parirenyatwa, copy from Prof Jonathan Moyo, sent the management packing.

Zidofo - 10 March 2014

Cry the beloved company!!

Mukanya WaSvosve - 11 March 2014

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