WILLOWVALE Mazda Motor Industries (WMMI) is on the verge of collapse amid revelations the vehicle manufacturing company, which has not been manufacturing for the past 12 months, owes Mazda Japan in excess of US$1, 5 million.
BY CHRISTOPHER MAHOVE
The company, in which the government holds majority shares through the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), has been paying its almost 200 workers half salaries for the past 12 months, while on forced leave, as a measure to avoid retrenchment.
This comes at a time when government recently forked out almost US$20 million to import top-of-the-range vehicles for the newly appointed ministers and their deputies.
The legislature is also expected to part with not less than US$10 million for vehicles for the new MPs.
WMMI management is now proposing to remove the workers from the pay roll and put them on a flat US$100 allowance each for the next six months.
The workers would not be reporting for duty and this has caught the ire of the employees, who are questioning the legality of the move.
Workers who spoke to Standardbusiness on condition of anonymity said a Works Council meeting held on Wednesday last week had failed to agree on anything as the employees feared being systematically dumped by their employer.
“We are saying that if we get allowances without pay-slips for six months, while we are not reporting for work, there is a possibility that the employer will disown us as there will be nothing to link us to the company in the six months. We will not be on the payroll,” said one of the workers.
He said the company should either bring them back to work on full salaries or negotiate retrenchment packages, in line with the Labour Act.
WMMI financial controller, Charles Gobvu, admitted the company was facing challenges, but denied that workers had been on half salaries for the past 12 months.
“We are having problems like any other company in the country. We stopped production last year. We have not been producing since September last year and we have been selling our old stock and some new completed vehicles which we had,” said Gobvu.
“As far as I am concerned, everyone was being paid in full and as far as I know, the only month that they have not been paid is September.”