Judith Phiri, Business Reporter
THE National Railway of Zimbabwe in June and July terminated contracts for close to 300 short term contract workers with fears that more might lose their jobs.
In a letter signed by acting general manager Mrs Respina Zinyanduko, and seen by Sunday Business, she said that all contract workers whose contracts expired on 31 July 2021 should not be renewed until further notice.
“Exceptions to this requirement shall be those workers serving in the medical and occupational health departments who are assisting in the Covid-19 combat programmes,” she said.
Mrs Zinyanduko said that in order to give effect to the implementation of the restructuring exercise, effective 1 August 2021, all employees in sub-grades A1 to A3 acting in higher grades are to revert to their substantive grades.
The letter also stated that all employees acting in positions that have been deemed redundant in terms of the new structure shall revert to their substantive positions.
Another clause read that incumbents in substantive positions deemed redundant are going to be redeployed and where necessary retrained or re-skilled for that purpose.
“As you may have realised, the new organisation structure has inevitably resulted in some positions and departments being rendered redundant while a few new positions have emerged,” she said.
When contacted for a further comment, Mrs Zinyanduko said that in line with the Government’s directive they were operating at 25 percent, hence they opted not to renew the contracts.
She said that once the Covid-19 pandemic eases, the organisation would reconsider the position on contract workers.
“As for redeployment it is normal. No one is going to lose their job, while they are at home they are receiving their full pay and their transport allowance.”
In a statement released on Friday, NRZ said it was undertaking a restructuring exercise which will see some posts being abolished and other jobs being enriched.
“This exercise follows an instruction from the shareholder to streamline the operations of the national bulk carrier in line with the current business and revenue being generated by the company. However, the NRZ board and management have made it clear that no permanent employee will be retrenched as a result of these changes.
“Excess staff will be redeployed to areas of need and a robust retraining programme will be implemented to enable the permanent employees to fit into the new structure,” said the company.
The company said it was operating at 25 percent due to the effects of Covid-19 pandemic which resulted in reduction of business operations and revenue inflows.
“The need to restructure to meet the present demands of the business and the market, obviously causes a lot of anxiety amongst the employees, but NRZ board and management would like to reassure employees that their jobs are safe and there is no need for them to panic.”
However, the restructuring has riled the contract workers, some who have written to the board expressing their displeasure. In a letter seen by Sunday Business and signed by some of the workers, they said more than 300 have been laid off.
“Over 300 permanent workers and an estimated 1 500 workers who have been working as short term contract (STCs) workers for between two to 14 years in the NRZ are set to lose their jobs starting June 2021 as all those whose contracts would be expiring at the end of each month starting June 2021 would not be renewed. So technically the restructuring exercise is targeting to lay off 2 000 workers from the 4 600 workforce that NRZ currently has.
“Imagine someone working for the past 14 years as a contract worker and you are just told to go home, while there is no reward whatsoever after serving the organisation for that long.”