‘Manufacturing most affected by jobs cuts’

Golden Sibanda Senior Business Reporter—

A survey carried out by a local human resources firm shows that 20 percent of workers who lost jobs following the Supreme Court ruling that employers could terminate contracts upon issuing three months notice were in the manufacturing sector. Tourism and hospitality, Information Technology and Telecommunications were also major casualties, after each pair accounted for about 13 percent of the workers who lost their jobs.

The survey was carried out by Industrial Psychology Consultants in the aftermath of the July 17 Supreme Court ruling, which resulted in over 20 000 workers losing jobs, according to estimates from Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. “The total number of employees terminated per sector was analysed. The manufacturing sector had the greatest number of (contract) terminations than any other sector, “ IPC said.

The floundering sector recorded a 1,9 percentage increase in capacity utilisation to 39 percent in June this year driven by beverages and construction sectors. It is one of the sectors seriously maligned by lack of competitiveness due to old equipment and technology. Other sectors including media, marketing and advertising, professional services, Non-Governmental service, quasi-Government, engineering, education, automotive, agriculture and agro processing industries each accounted for 7 percent of the widespread job cuts.

Thirty-eight percent of participants surveyed said they terminated contracts on notice. Sixty- two percent said they had not terminated any of their employees’ contracts. Participants in the survey were also asked what they thought about the amendments by Government to the Labour Act, which seek to placate the frenzied termination of jobs by employers.

Twenty-three percent of the respondents indicated that they felt: “The Act needs clarification and refinement,” the said, adding “it complicates labour issues and is therefore not practical.”

Fifteen percent of the respondents said the recently amended Labour Act now has good and bad parts and is likely to cause antagonism between employees and employers. Thirteen percent felt that the Act is fair and expedites dispute resolution, another 13 percent said the legislation was rushed and inadequate while 10 percent said it is pro-employees.

The survey also sought to find out sentiment around the retrospective application of the Labour Act taking into account workers laid off before the legislation had been amended. Ninety percent of the participants indicated that they were in the process of making arrangements to pay terminated employees by way of negotiating a payment plan or making provisions of payment in their accounts in line with requirements of new amended Act.

IPC concluded that the results of this survey showed that the number of organisations that have terminated employee contracts by giving three months notice cannot be ignored.