Hwange Colliery to retrench workers


Fairness Moyana, Hwange Correspondent
COALMINER Hwange Colliery Company Limited has come up with a voluntary retrenchment proposal in an effort to cut its workforce after last year’s moves to lay off 1 000 workers were blocked by the Government.

The company last year wanted to cuts its 2 400 workface by almost half but that was stopped by the Government and instead ordered the mining entity to cut working hours to two weeks per month.

The measure, however, has not brought any relief to Hwange resulting in management launching another bid to trim its workforce, this time through a call for voluntary retrenchments.

In a letter to workers, a copy which Sunday Business managed to get, HCCL managing director Engineer Thomas Makore (pictured)said those who would take up the offer will receive notice of three months basic pay, service pay of one month salary for every two years of service, severance pay of six months basic pay and relocation allowance of one month salary.

In addition, Eng Makore said those that are staying in company houses would be allowed to stay for three months from the date of retrenchment.

“The following are the specific conditions which are the scheme is voluntary and being offered by the company, it applies to all employees across the board, each interested employee must submit a written application which will be individually responded to detailing specifics. Those staying in company houses or compounds will be allowed to stay during and up to a maximum period of three months’ notice from date of retrenchment. All statutory payments will be honoured as per statutes,” read part of the letter dated 20 February 2017.

Eng Makore, in the letter said employment costs were not in sync with the plummeting production levels the company was recording.

“As a company our operations continue to be impacted negatively by the different factors that include limited working capital, aged plant and equipment, huge employee costs and a depressed macro-economic environment. All having been considered and some mitigating factors already adopted and implemented, it is clear that the company cannot continue operating at the current employment levels. Consequently it is necessary to drastically reduce the number of employees across HCCL,” said Eng Makore.

He said the exercise would apply to all levels of employees although management reserved the right to accept or refuse request submitted while if it fails to get the sufficient numbers through the exercise, other measures would be used.

“As the company is going through very difficult times should we fail to get sufficient numbers through Voluntary Retrenchment, other measures may be adopted,” he added.

The deadline for the submission of the applications to the company’s human resources manager for those interested was on Friday 3 March. He said the company was finalising the scheme of arrangement to facilitate the payment of salary arrears and retrenchment packages.

The company recently received $111,5 million in Treasury Bills, part of which would go towards addressing its huge debt of $350 million including the 36 months salaries arrears. The company retrenched 800 workers two years ago but was yet to pay them exit packages.

The mining entity has put in place interventions to help recover, chief among them resuscitation of coke exports to regional markets which was the company’s lifeline. Management said the company was running at very low capacity owing to limited working capital, aged plant and equipment, huge employee costs and a depressed macro-economic environment. The company seeks to realign its production capacity with its human resources by letting go about 1 200 workers.