BY SILAS NKALA
PENSIONERS from the defunct tyre-manufacturing firm, Dunlop Zimbabwe in Bulawayo have alleged that they have not received their retrenchment packages and pensions several years after they left the company.
Some of the pensioners told Southern Eye that whenever they enquired about the outstanding payments, they were told that records of former workers were destroyed and could not be located.
Dunlop Zimbabwe used to be the country’s sole tyre manufacturer.
It ceased production in 2016 citing working capital and foreign currency constraints.
In June 2018, the company was said to be in need of about US$12 million working capital to resume operations.
After liquidation, the company transformed to Auto Tyres Zimbabwe following an indigenous company, Zoomway (Pvt) Limited’s acquisition of 51% shareholding in April 2016.
Previously, the local tyre producer was a subsidiary of Apollo Tyres.
One of the affected former workers, Victor Mgiyelwa Ndlovu, told Southern Eye that he resigned from Dunlop in 1992 and never got his dues as the company claimed lack of records about his work history.
He said when he resigned from the company, he had not reached pensionable age.
“I worked for Dunlop for 14 years. I left in 1992 after resigning and they promised that when I turn 60 years old, I would get my pension. When I turned 60 years old, I went to the company. They told me that they could not locate my records,” Ndlovu said.
He said he was told by guards that records of pensioners and other former workers were burnt.
“How can people rob us like this? We hear that some of the top guys took our money and used it to build their own businesses. This is sad. We are failing to report theft of our money because all records that give you entitlement have been destroyed,” he said.
Workers are now demanding that the issue be investigated by an independent body.
Contacted for comment last Wednesday, Auto Tyres director Benson Samudzimu said he was in a meeting.
“I will get responses for you after my meeting,” he said.
Written questions were sent to him, but by yesterday, he still had not responded.
In 2017, the company acquired modern tyre-making equipment meant to enhance competitiveness production once operations resume.
At its peak, Dunlop Zimbabwe used to employ 2 000 people. The company used to export tyres to countries such as Zambia and South Africa.
Auto Tyres has the capacity to produce 6 000 tonnes per year worth US$50 million, according to officials.