Monday, 17 February 2020

NEW CSC INVESTOR LAYS OFF 155 WORKERS


MORE than 155 Cold Storage Company (CSC) workers in Masvingo have appealed to the Minister of Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira to intervene after the new investor, Boustead Beef (Pvt) Zimbabwe, issued them with retrenchment notices.

While the US$400 million joint venture deal between CSC and Boustead Beef (Pvt) Ltd had raised hopes for more job opportunities, panicky workers said they were shocked to receive retrenchment notices recently.

In a petition that was handed over to the Minister here yesterday, the workers expressed disappointment over the investor saying they now doubt Boustead Beef’s capacity and sincerity. The petition signed by 50 workers criticised the manner in which Boustead was conducting its business, especially at CSC Masvingo branch. 

Workers committee chairman Mr Marvelous Chifambi claimed the new investor has been giving empty promises.

“We are appealing to you Minister to facilitate the immediate retraction of retrenchment letters to all employees. We expect investment to bring jobs as envisioned by the Second Republic instead of destroying current jobs,” reads the petition.

“We are appealing for the immediate retraction of the Boustead Beef agreement signed with Nicholas Havecroft. The Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement should declare Boustead Beef Zimbabwe incapacitated.

“The new investor has no knowledge of the beef industry or interest to revive CSC fortunes. You should open up space for new, serious and committed investors.” 

Mr Chifambi told Business Chronicle that the retrenchment letters were sent by the investor’s consultant, Mr Reginald Shoko, on February 1, 2020 and indicated that Boustead was working on behalf of CSC and Government.

“How far true is this? The retrenchment proposed a two-week salary for every year served and three months-notice leave days accrued. The workers are given paltry salaries using a 2012 salary schedule where cattle attendants still got ZW$101, skinner ZW$170, accounts clerk ZW$335, auditor ZW$466 and artisan ZW$475,” he said.

Mr Shoko would not be drawn to comment on the matter.

The employees said their rights regarding the cost of living adjustments should also be respected and demanded that management prioritises Masvingo branch’s re-opening as per promise.

“There should be an opportunity to tap into the vast wealth of cattle endowment as the province has the highest number of cattle in the country,” reads the petition.

In response, Minister Chadzamira assured the employees that the matter would be addressed. 

“We thank you CSC employees for bringing this issue to the attention of the provincial leadership.

“We were, however, aware of the challenges bedevilling the workers and we have made strides in engaging the investor to hear their side of the story,” he said.

“The agreement with Boustead Beef Zimbabwe was signed way back but there is no progress. As part of devolution, the re-opening of CSC and Mashava Mine are strategic as they will be our economic vanguard once they are operational.

“The behaviour of Boustead Beef is suspicious and we are open to a new investor who is serious. An Italian investor has inquired about the availability of CSC.

“We may be forced to engage the new investor as we want the company to operate so that it contributes to the province’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

“I, therefore, assure you that you are definitely going to be assisted as we are already dealing with the matter at the highest level”. Chronicle

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