BY SILAS NKALA
Covid-19 and the general deterioration of the economy have conspired to make this year one of the toughest festive seasons for workers, a unionist has said.
Ambrose Sibindi, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) western region chairman, said most workers had not received their traditional bonuses because companies had performed poorly due to lockdown restrictions to control the spread of Covid-19.
Zimbabwe first went into lockdown at the end of March and for several months the economy was at a standstill.
Hundreds of companies never recovered after the forced closures and this saw thousands of workers losing their jobs.
Sibindi said the situation remained dire for many workers and this festive season would prove to be the most difficult in a long time.
“Most of the industries operating, in terms of production, are around 50% or so, but some are totally closed and others have subdivided their premises,” he said.
“You get in and find that there are some indigenous people who have been given some space to operate.
“From the outside you may think that the factory is operating, but when you get in you get the shock of your life, that there are three or four small companies operating within, so the owners of the company rely on rent to survive. But generally the situation is very bad.”
He said very few workers had received the 13th cheque this year.
“We are getting information that some were given 40%, some as little as 30% as their bonus which means things are not alright,” the unionist added.
“Some companies are charging in foreign currency for their products, but still pay their workers in local currency and they hide behind the Covid-19 issue.
“They are taking advantage of the situation to cheat their workers.”
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says it is growing increasingly worried that prices of basic commodities were rising beyond the reach of the majority of households.