No bonuses for private sector

17 Sep, 2017 - 00:09 0 Views

Sharon Munjenjema
Battle lines have been drawn between private sector employees and employers following preliminary indications that the latter will not declare a bonus this year, a position workers have vowed to resist.

The employees are demanding the 13th cheque and have said any attempts to deny them the benefit will be met with various actions, including court intervention.

The Employers’ Council of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) – an umbrella body representing private sector employers – has already ruled out bonus payments this year.

The employers cite depressed production and need to finance expansion or retooling exercises in those companies seen to be doing well.

Contrary to the positions by private sector employers, Government announced early this month that it will award its employees a bonus to be paid in batches from the first quarter of next year.

Government says its employees have a right to an annual bonus, and despite financial challenges it is committed to fulfil the obligation.

In an interview with The Sunday Mail last week, EMCOZ executive director Mr John Mufukare said players in the private sector find themselves in a difficult position to proclaim a bonus.

“At least 99 percent of the private sector players are not in any position to pay bonuses. They are struggling to pay monthly salaries and in most cases are in arrears, how then should we talk of a bonus?” he said.

“A bonus is paid as an appreciation for work done over and above what was expected, so if we haven’t even met budget stipulation, how can we give each other bonuses?”

Mr Mufukare said a small fraction of the private sector players was performing steadily after the introduction of SI64, but was operating under high costs of production and making little profits to guarantee a 13th cheque.

“If the companies were making profits, we would expect them to give bonuses,” he said.

“But we hear them complain that they are operating with antiquated equipment and now that they have made some extra money they want to invest in replacing the machinery to guarantee efficient production.

“There are cases where more money is coming into companies, but there are even more pressing needs waiting for that money.”

But the workers are adamant that they are entitled to a bonus.

Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) secretary-general Mr Kenias Shamuyarira said he was disappointed by the position within the private sector to deny employees a “token of appreciation”.

“The position taken by employers (in the private sector), to blatantly declare that they are not going to give bonuses this year, is an indication of an agenda to make huge profits at the expense of the worker,” he said.

“The employers are not valuing the worker, yet they continue to drive top-of- the-range vehicles. If we are in tough times, let it be for both employer and employees,” he said.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Mr Peter Mutasa said his organisation will challenge the employer’s position.

“We are definitely going to challenge any employer who puts forward that position. We will use whatever means available to us,” he said.

“Most workers have contracts and collective bargaining agreements that make it mandatory for employers to pay bonuses. If it means going to the courts, we will do so.”

Mr Mutasa also called on Government to consider reforming the country’s labour laws which he argued exposed the workers to exploitation.

 

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