John Manzongo At the Workplace
For years, many Zimbabwean workers have been concerned with issues of better salaries and wages at their workplaces. They have overlooked some critical areas, leaving room for company management to take advantage of such misdirected efforts. There is a general trend which has infiltrated many company human resources (HR) departments in connivance with dubious or “illiterate” workers’ representatives.
The issue of housing stands acquired using the company roll has had its fair share of anecdotes in recent times.
But when it comes to real distribution of such, only few workers benefit while the rest of the stands or houses are given to unknown beneficiaries or, worse still, to those related to management.
The painful fact is that local authorities would be misled into thinking that the stands were all given to workers yet just a few benefited.
The bulk of the stands usually go to unknown “workers” or beneficiaries.
Zimbabwe recently adopted Zim-Asset blueprint, which is a clear roadmap of how the national economy will grow in the next five years.
On paper, yes, many companies seem to be following this blueprint but in practice, nothing is being done.
If investigated, corruption, nepotism and fraud being committed by many companies under the guise of uplifting the living standards of their workers would be unearthed.
Some workers are constantly benefiting from scheme after scheme just because they are close to the HR or the workers’ committee representatives.
Instead of publicly announcing how many stands the company has been allocated by the local authority, the process of allocating the stands is done secretly and without principle.
In the spirit of transparency and enforcing accountability on the part of companies, local authorities must start publishing the number of stands allocated to companies and also the names of those who would have benefited.
Workers who are purportedly the beneficiaries will then know the number of stands allocated to their company and who got them.
The sad reality is that the same people continue to benefit secretly from such schemes.
At the same time council is misled into believing that they are clearing the housing backlog.
Of late, most workers’ representatives have been overstaying their welcome and tend to side with management.
This has led to deterioration of working conditions at many a company.
Most workers’ committees representatives are not confident and grab whatever they have been offered by management.
They do not have bargaining power.
Some workers’ committees can stoop so low and are given “kickbacks” by management as a thank you gift for accepting paltry salary increments on behalf of a whole group of highly qualified workers.
At the same time, a highly-skilled labour force snubs being members of workers’ committees because they just do not want to be at loggerheads with management.
Instead, they concentrate on doing their jobs. In many meetings, it is believed that some workers’ representatives clearly do not understand or know how to interpret financial statements of companies and other things beneficial to workers.
As such, they are not able to confidently argue or negotiate for an increment.
A case in point is that of an ‘illiterate’ workers’ representative who, after being given a company financial statement during a meeting with management, asked for the definitions of turnover, liability and assets.
Surely such a workers’ representative is a liability to his colleagues.
The same workers’ representative becomes an asset to management.
Many companies now force their workers to remain with only 10 days’ leave while the law states that a worker can accrue up to 90 leave days (for those in junior ranks) and 180 days for those in higher positions.
The other issue is that many workers do not take keen interest in reading or studying their company code of conduct. Workers should be reminded that it is in their best interest to constantly check with human resources department.