Trinidad property to be auctioned

The High Court of Zimbabwe.

The High Court of Zimbabwe.

THE Sheriff of the High Court is set to auction Trinidad Industries’ factory and other equipment to settle a debt arising from its failure to pay workers for several months two years ago.
The chemical manufacturing firm, which specialised in the production of adhesives, moisture proof membranes, sealants and coatings, was dragged to the courts by 82 of its former workers in an acrimonious labour dispute that saw the firm trying to circumvent the courts at one time, before their tricks were discovered.
After an arbitrator ruled in their favour, the workers registered their award with the court and asked the Sheriff of the High Court to attach and take into execution the company’s assets.
This resulted in Trinidad’s factory and other assets in Harare being attached.
However, the auctioning of the assets was delayed last year after a company called Trinidad Contractors, which claimed to be a different entity from Trinidad Industries, but operating from the same premises, claimed that the assets that had been attached belonged to it, not to Trinidad Industries.
This is one of the tricks that companies facing the auctioning of their assets have used recently to dodge the law.
Last year, the Financial Gazette’s Companies & Markets reported that workers at a Harare clothing firm had disputed claims by another company that it was not obliged to pay them terminal benefits, pushing the responsibility to its predecessor
This was despite the fact that the equipment of the company that owed them was used by the new firm. Management and directors, were claiming that they were operating a different firm.
Regarding the latest incident, it emerged that in 2011, Trinidad Industries directors had transferred all the company’s assets into the newly formed construction outfit.
Knowing that their assets were secure, Trinidad Industries’ directors stopped paying the workers, resulting in arrears rising to US$600 000.
However, the workers went on to win the case, resulting in the latest move by the Sheriff to put the assets under the hammer.
Until the controversial Supreme Court ruling of July last year, which allowed employers to terminate workers’ employment on notice, it was becoming a common trend for directors of companies saddled with huge workforces that they could not afford to pay or retrench to spirit their prime assets away, before shutting the business down.

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