Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
EMPLOYERS who terminate workers’ contracts or cut salaries without following labour laws risk being sued when sanity is restored after the recession caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
This was said by Employers Association for Tourism and Safari Operators (EATSO) founding president, Mr Clement Mukwasi. He was making reference to the prevailing situation where three quarters of workers in the tourism industry have lost jobs after employers terminated contracts owing to lack of business as a result of cancelations and postponement of events caused by Covid-19 outbreak.
Those who remained at work have had their salaries cut by half while employers have said they may not be able to pay anyone this month. A majority of industry players have closed for the next three months to reduce overhead costs such as rates and salaries that accrue even without making business.
Mr Mukwasi, however, said there was life after the pandemic and warned that decisions made without advice from legal experts might see some employers being haunted by errors made during this difficult time.
“Our industry is besieged and undergoing torturous conditions as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus in our source markets. We are all undergoing very difficult and extra ordinary times as businesses but we hope that we will go past this pandemic with all our assets and human resources intact,” he said.
“Make sure you follow all labour laws where you need to terminate contracts or cut salaries and incentives for your teams. Please check all the leases, service level contracts and any other agreements that you have with different institutions and ensure that you understand your rights and obligations that emanate from the vis majeure clause, defined as act of emergency, and ensure to get advice from registered legal experts,” said Mr Mukwasi.
He encouraged players in the industry to monitor and follow all advice from the Ministry of Health and Child Care towards management of the virus and share information with workers.
Mr Mukwasi also challenged companies to come up with a new work culture in which they should hold productive meetings via digital communication channels. He called for unity in the sector.
“Let’s all put our differences aside and work as a unit and where we need to lobby Government for a bail out in the form of a survival or recovery fund, let’s try by all means to coordinate as an industry and have one voice,” he said.
Mr Mukwasi implored employers and National Employment Councils to avoid unnecessary salary deductions from workers during this period.
“NEC dues are deductable on the actual payroll and not solely on gazetted salaries. Where you agree with your employees to cut a salary, the dues are also cut proportionately. In the long term we should not allow NEC deductions on non-pensionable income such as allowances. It is our call as well that we encourage employees not to be too indebted,” he said.
Trade unionist Mr Eddie Dzapasi said workers will be burdened by NEC dues and rentals despite them being out of work. — @ncubeleon.