Source: Zimbabwe Defence Industries clashes with employees | The Financial Gazette October 13, 2016
THE Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI), an entity which specialises in the manufacture and supply of army uniforms and ammunition for the local and international markets, is up in arms with its employees over unpaid salaries and casualisation of employment contracts.
Documents in possession of the Financial Gazette expose the parastatal’s management as forcing civilian employees, who were on fixed term contracts to accept casual employment contracts.
The development will see the workers surrendering their permanent employee status to assume a new status, which makes them unsecure because they can be fired at any time without terminal benefits and can also be paid very low salaries.
ZDI employees were ordered to sign the contracts on October 7, 2016 and failure to do so would have resulted in them not getting their salary arrears.
The company is in dire straits and this could soon worsen if the employees decide to institute legal action.
“Since the new management came in, nothing has been paid and the working conditions continue to deteriorate. The company is not prioritising the payment of salaries even though huge sums of money are generated at times.
“Only at rare circumstances that we are given US$100 transport allowances,” said one of the employees.
The disgruntled employees, most of them having served the company for periods ranging from 15 to 30 years, said the new management and army-linked staff were getting lucrative allowances at the expense of the civilian staff.
“What boggles the mind is that management staff are getting allowances on top of the salaries which they are paid by the government and this is clear maladministration,” complained another employee.
Contacted for comment, ZDI public relations officer, captain Jennifer Dube declined to shed light on the matter by dismissing the allegations.
“As far as the ZDI is concerned all workers are still employed on permanent basis. The allegations being levelled are false and unfounded,” she said.
The employees, however, maintained that their jobs were on the line and described Dube’s comments as malicious.
ZDI faces a serious liquidity crisis precipitated by sanctions, which have prohibited its United States and European Union customers from doing business with it since 2002.
The company’s woes have been compounded by high local production costs when compared to mass producers like China.
It needs at least US$20 million to refurbish and replace most of its antiquated machinery and an additional US$10 million for the acquisition of raw materials.