THE Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) has apparently failed to honour its pledge to pay leave days to the hundreds of workers the corporation retrenched in August 2015 using the Supreme Court judgement of July 17 of the same year.
In a letter to the affected workers, the Acting Head of Finance, Human Resources and Administration, Benania Shumba said the Corporation would pay off leave days accrued as at 31 October 2015 by January 31, 2016. But, as of last week, the commitment had not been honoured.
The letter reads: “Further to our previous correspondence, please be advised that you will be paid your cash in lieu of the number of days accrued as at 31 October 2015 by 31 January 2016. Please note that cash in lieu of these days will be used to reduce your debts should you have any.
“However, payment of your other terminal benefits will be advised in due course. Once again, the Corporation wishes you well in your future endeavours and thanks you for having been part of us.”
The letter was copied to the acting chief executive officer and the chief accountant.
However, what has incensed the retrenchees is the failure by the Corporation to communicate the reasons behind the non-adherence to tits own pledge which was unsolicited.
One of the affected workers who refused to be identified told this reporter that he believed the Corporation rushed to write the commitment letter(s) to pre-empt a labour court case which the retrenchees were about to institute against the broadcaster over the terminal benefits.
“As it stands, ZBC seems to be the worst parastatal in the country in as far as industrial relations are concerned,” said the ex-staffer.
“The corporation has several labour cases before the courts and it has not even won one. Two years ago, ZBC was ordered by the courts to pay one Abigail Mvududu for the next five years due to unfair and illegal termination of her contract.”
‘Board clueless about broadcasting’
Due to the fact that the corporation’s premises are classified under the protected areas act, ZBC management act with impunity in the full knowledge that their property cannot be attached by the messenger of court because of the presence of armed 2 brigade soldiers stationed at all company stations.
On November 13, 2015, there were disturbances at ZBC’s Pockets Hill head offices when a group of ex-workers showed up at the broadcasting centre to inquire about their packages following their dismissal on three months’ notices.
At least one worker was injured after he was allegedly beaten by gun-wielding soldiers and security personnel for reportedly taking pictures at the protected area. He was taken to Parirenyatwa Hospital for treatment.
Another former employee said about 30 workers had gone to ZBC to inquire about their terminal benefits including money for leave days, money for part-timers, as well as the money that was supposed to be reimbursed for the salary cut effected in January 2014 by former acting chief executive officer, Allan Chiweshe at the behest of his principals at Munhumutapa Building that is when management summoned the solders to assault us and order us off the premises.
“It is very unfortunate that the army is now being used to protect, aid and abet the incompetent and increasingly corrupt management at ZBC,” said one former employee.
“It is interesting to note that since the retrenchment exercise, almost half of the affected workers have been re-hired and other new faces added to the salary bill. Can anyone explain what really is going on at that Hill?
The real problem, lamented one former employee, “is the board of directors which is clueless of what broadcasting is all about or entails”.
“You retrench half of the workforce yet at the same time the board is talking about increasing channels from one to six on television due to digitalisation. So who will produce programmes for those added channels? The Nigerians who they have hired as consultants and being paid exorbitant salaries? All we are asking for are our dues nothing more said another employee.”
Acting ZBC chief executive officer, Patrick Mavhura and ZBC spokesperson, Gladman Bandama were not reachable on their phones.