HARARE – Sacked Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) workers have rejected the parastatal’s retrenchment package, saying it had been imposed on them in violation of the Labour Act.
The Daily News on Sunday can exclusively reveal that a meeting which was held between AirZim management and the fired employees on Thursday last week ended in a stalemate after workers turned down the package.
The airline, which was represented by its human resources officials and an independent consultant, refused to budge and stuck to its offer, saying it was in terms of Section 12(28:1) of the Labour Act.
The troubled State-run airline, which dismissed the 200 workers on three months’ notice, said it was willing to pay retrenchment packages of at least two weeks’ salary for every year served.
Officials from the National Employment Council (NEC) then walked out of the meeting after being told by AirZim management that they were not supposed to make any contributions to discussions, rendering them mere spectators.
Transport and Infrastructural Development minister Joram Gumbo said the funds to bankroll the retrenchment packages were available.
“The board approached me with a retrenchment request which I accepted given the troubles at Air Zimbabwe. I then set out to look for funds so that these people do not go empty-handed. I can confirm that the funds are now in place and the distribution will start soon,” Gumbo said.
He, however, declined to state the amount he raised and the source of the funds, referring further questions to AirZim board chair Chipo Dyanda.
Dyanda said: “I prefer not to discuss these matters through papers until the process is complete. I can only confirm the retrenchment is on course and a plan exists to deal with their packages.”
An ex-AirZim worker said: “There was a meeting with all the employees who were fired last week who are covered under NEC, but there was no progress in that meeting.
“AirZim is just offering two weeks for every year served and are not willing to budge. There are other outstanding issues that need to be ironed out.
“We asked them (management) about other pending dues such as outstanding salaries, pensions, housing allowances, bonuses and long service awards.
“We also demanded that a letter be written to each of the affected employees stating respective individual packages and how they are going to be paid, which they said would be done in two weeks’ time,” the worker said.
The loss-making national carrier, saddled with a $300 million debt, had its biggest head-count reduction in almost two decades last month when it cut 200 jobs as it seeks to return to profitability.
Gumbo has said the airline was posting a colossal loss of $2 million monthly.