By Kudzai Chimhangwa
PROPERTY belonging to Rufaro Marketing (Pvt) Limited was last week attached by the Deputy Sheriff as part of efforts to offset US$346 000 owing in salaries to about 250 workers, who had not been paid since last year.
The workers recently engaged their lawyer in order to redress their plight.
Joel Mambara of J. Mambara and Partners told Standardbusiness that the workers went for arbitration last year and were awarded three months salary arrears payment covering the first quarter of February to April 2011.
He explained that the workers were presently owed a cumulative figure above US$1,5 million as last year’s quarterly payments and this year’s payments had not been made.
The award given in May last year and registered with the High Court determined that workers’ salaries had to be increased by 60%.
“A writ of execution was lodged with the Deputy Sheriff. Motor vehicles have been attached, and an inventory review is currently being carried out to determine the extent of movable and immovable properties in the company’s possession,” he said. “These are just salary arrears and they are still accumulating.”
The company has since October last year been remodelled into a retail business in an effort to reduce losses by leasing out poorly performing outlets and providing funding for the retail business.
However, the proposed transformation of the beer outlets into a retail business caused consternation among some employees who felt they would get a raw deal from the new set up.
Rufaro Marketing board chairman, Philip Mataranyika, said the board was not against paying their workers their outstanding salaries adding that the employees had a right to seek legal recourse to get their money.
“The board is not against this (attachment of property) because the business has not been performing at all,” said Mataranyika. “The original concept of disposing of the assets was already encapsulated in the board’s proposal to (Harare City) council, except that it was unfortunate and inevitable that the assets had to be seized this way.”
Harare City Council owns Rufaro Marketing.
Mataranyika said the board had already planned on implementing a raft of measures to fund retrenchment and pay creditors through disposal of movable and immovable property. The property includes furniture, computers, vehicles, tanks, other equipment and at least 11 outlets.
The disposal proceeds were calculated to meet at least 72% of total liability of US$14,4 million while the balance would be paid from 2013 lease income.