Axed Zupco employees besiege offices

BULAWAYO - More than 30 former southern region Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) employees who are yet to receive their retrenchment packages on Tuesday invaded the company’s Bulawayo provincial offices to compel their former employer to honour its payment pledges.

In June 2010, a total of 117 employees from the public transport company’s southern region were laid off in a retrenchment exercise that resulted in about 300 workers losing their jobs nationwide.

Four years down the line, the company is still struggling to clear arrears for the retrenchees.

When the Daily News crew arrived at the premises, former workers drawn from eight Zupco depots in the southern part of the country were gathered inside the premises waiting to be addressed by the authorities on their grievances.

Lukas Munyika, chairperson of the Retrenchees Representative Committee, told the Daily News they were fast running out of patience with the way they have been treated.

“This is very inhuman. Our children are no longer going to school, water supply has been cut and we have accrued huge electricity bills while the company is dragging its feet on paying our dues,” said the agitated Munyika.

According to the January 9 minutes seen by this paper from a meeting held between the retrenchees and the company management, the two parties agreed on a payment plan.

Out of a total of 117 retrenched, only 37 are yet to receive their packages and are being owed more than $390 000 in retrenchment packages.

“We agreed on how we were going to be paid from the beginning of this year and everything has been going on well for the past two months but all of a sudden it seems we are heading back to the same old stories. We are yet to receive the money for March yet we are now in April hence our decision to come together and confront them,” Munyika said.

“We strongly believe that the system is rotten. The will to pay us is just not there. Imagine each bus brings $22 000 a month and the company has more than 300 buses. In December we understand the top managers awarded themselves $10 000 worth of loans yet the company is falling apart and owes us huge sums.”

The visibly-angry retrenchees some of whom had travelled from as far as Gokwe, Kwekwe, Hwange and Masvingo among other southern areas later invaded the Human Resources office where they were addressed by a senior official.

It was during some tough negotiations that they were told that the company would immediately deposit $25 000 for the month of March but that was not enough for the retrenchees who felt that a deposit for April was almost due.

Contacted for comment Zupco acting chief executive officer George Masaire was non-committal, referring this paper back to Munyika.

“Call Munyika, I spoke to him early in the morning he will give you the latest position,” Masaire said.

However, Munyika confirmed receiving a call from Masaire but said no agreement was reached concerning the dispute.

The latest engagement between the retrenchees and the management followed a protracted legal battle in the courts.

The writ of execution was obtained at the Bulawayo High Court after the bus company failed to honour an arbitrary award dated April 10, 2013 over a half-a-million dollar debt then owed to retrenched workers resulting in 31 buses being attached by the deputy sheriff.

However, an appeal to the Supreme Court by the parastatal saw the order being reversed.  The case is still pending in the courts.

Last year, former Zupco boss Brian Chawasarira was sacked in a move widely viewed as a result of his alleged failure to properly handle the matter.

Comments (1)

zupco ? maiita basa rekuchinjanisa paint musingazivi kuti haisiyo good management.Bhadharai vanhu

taka - 17 April 2014

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