CSC clarifies retrenchment programme
By Reginald Shoko
FOLLOWING reports that workers from the Cold Storage Company (CSC) are fighting an imminent loss of jobs under the new investor, Boustead Beef Zimbabwe, there is a need to clarify certain issues to the public.
First of all, it is true that we are in process of retrenchment and it is born out of the fact that the CSC workers are on secondment to Boustead Beef who are a new concession holder of the defunct CSC through a joint venture with the Government of Zimbabwe.
As Boustead Beef rolls out its operations it must recruit workers and the seconded workers must be officially terminated from the previous working contracts and be appointed to the Boustead Beef contracts if they fit the requirements. It is natural that you cannot have two contracts in one employment hence the reason for the retrenchment processes underway. For the record we are almost concluding the negotiations with the majority of the workers. Boustead Beef were seconded 177 permanent workers country wide and that includes Wet-blue Industries. Every permanent worker is being retrenched regardless of skill, age etcetera, as the legal requirement to officially terminate the previous status in order to create a new working conditions. It must be noted that the secondment status is a disadvantage to the workers as the current employer cannot alter the previous conditions of employment. Worse in these inflationary conditions of the economy, the workers will always be struggling to survive hence the importance of terminating that status and creating a new environment.
If you are to engage the workers we are negotiating with, they will update you on the positions we are negotiating on. There is a legal guideline of retrenchment as directed by the Labour Act and all those have been followed. The negotiations have gone well and we will be concluding in the next few days. A number of issues have been agreed upon in principle and we are just waiting for stakeholder feedback.
The unions have also been involved in the process to help the workers in the negotiations. I think there is serious misunderstanding of the retrenchment process we are engaged in. It is part and parcel of the transition from the CSC to Boustead Beef and there is nothing sinister nor illegal about it. As Boustead Beef restructures the former meat giant to a profitable and commercial viable entity, we cannot avoid that process due to a number of reasons ranging from the advancement in age of the current human resource, developments in the industry and the nature of Boustead Beef being a private entity. It is different from the defunct CSC, which was a state enterprise. It is unfortunate that some of the workers have the audacity to utter such words given that this very company has not been operating for close to two decades, and they have also been selling its assets through court processes to recover their owed salaries.
The current investor has been paying their salaries even without production as seconded employees. The company has been busy with the retooling and re-engineering the business for the past four months and most of the equipment is being imported of which some is already in the country and will see production in the next eight weeks. As for capacity we are more than able and already sitting in over US$500 million signed export orders. And we have only been in this company for a year and we must perform miracles in equipment that has not worked in over 15 years.
The Boustead business model is very viable and its anchored on the export market, unfortunately we have been forced to look for the cattle from other countries as the previous management had destroyed the company herd, and also the current drought related challenges facing the national herd. The company will be exporting in the first quarter of this year after overcoming the teething challenges of transforming a state enterprise to a private entity. Retrenchment is the last process before we start production, we will be recruiting soon, including from the retrenched workers and the greater part of Bulawayo. Our model is that we will start with the Bulawayo and move to Masvingo and other operating areas across the country. We have already done a significant work on the ranches that we have had access to so far.
Mr Shoko is the CSC-Boustead Beef company consultant based in Bulawayo