Harare council lays off over 3 000 workers, with court's backing
Harare – Zimbabwe's Harare City Council has moved to lay off over 3 000 workers in line with the country's Supreme Court ruling last month that gave employers the leeway to terminate job contracts by giving employees just three months' notice, reports said on Wednesday.
The council workers are set to receive their letters of termination of contract on Wednesday, the state-controlled Herald newspaper said.
"Council officials are now in the process of coming up with the modalities. They should come up with a plan on who should go first, but the letters will be given to workers today," Deputy Mayor Thomas Muzuva was quoted as saying.
The Harare Municipal Workers Union expressed shock and questioned the criteria used to dismiss such a huge number of workers, according to New Zimbabwe.com.
"Yes, we have been informed that workers are going to be sent home. Last year, the council laid off workers and they re-employed them. Are we going to see a repetition of such an unfair practice?," the report quoted the union’s executive chairperson, Cosmas Bungu, as saying.
More than 20 000 Zimbabweans from both the private sector and state-owned firms have been fired since the court ruling on July 17.
A News Day report said a tense atmosphere pervaded the city council on Tuesday as reports of the impending job cuts spread following a meeting by the council’s human resources committee.
Zimbabwe's latest wave of job losses have led to renewed anger against President Robert Mugabe's government, which promised at least 2.2 million jobs during its election campaign in 2013.
Mugabe's government last week published a bill seeking to amend the labour law to force employers to pay severance packages to workers fired after the court ruling, and set tougher conditions for future dismissals.
Under the proposed amendments, employers can only dismiss a worker on three months' notice if there is agreement with the employee or if the worker is on a fixed-term contract, otherwise they are obliged to pay retrenchment packages of at least two weeks' salary for every year served.
Mugabe is expected to sign the bill into law soon.