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SPB staff audit opens can of worms

08 Aug, 2014 - 01:08 0 Views
SPB staff audit opens can of worms Mr Kuwaza

The Herald

Mr Kuwaza

Mr Kuwaza

Felex Share Herald Reporter
All State Procurement Board workers do not have employment contracts, a situation legal experts yesterday said was a violation of the Labour Act and a “landmine” for labour disputes.
SPB staff members, including principal officer Mr Cledwyn Nyanhete, do not know whether they are casual or permanent workers or if they have fixed term contracts.

They were only given offer letters upon employment stating their appointments and pay.

There are also fears that unqualified people could be working for the board after being recruited unprocedurally.

Section 12 of the Labour Act stipulates that an employer, upon engagement of an employee, shall inform the employee in writing of the particulars which include the duration of the contract, the probation period, the applicable code of conduct, remuneration and how it is calculated, benefits receivable, bonus or incentive production scheme or any other benefit that can be provided in the contract of employment.

SPB chairman Mr Charles Kuwaza could not be reached for comment on the matter as he was reportedly out of the country until next week.

The latest adverse audit report from the office of the Comptroller and Auditor-General acknowledged the SPB was operating in “the absence of a human resource policy.”

The report also stated that there was no policy document to guide the SPB when issuing staff loans, a situation that could see loans being given to undeserving cases.

“The board was operating without a human resources policy document that guides the behaviour, recruitment, selection and promotion of its staff,” reads the report.

“There is risk that employees may be recruited in a manner that lacks transparency.

“Their promotions may also be based on the individual appraiser’s personal feel rather that the board’s promotion policy.

“There is also a risk that poor performance may be difficult to detect for corrective action in the absence of the policy. The board should consider putting in place a human resources policy.”

Sources yesterday said by not offering workers contracts, the board was running away from employer obligations.

“Not even a single employee has a contract and the board is seized with the matter but it is proving to be a stooge board because nothing is being done,” said one source.

“The only benefit we know, because it was in the offer letter, is that of a contract mobile phone line. Without the contracts, some of the benefits that we are entitled to can easily be denied. We were promised, even during the Zimdollar era, that contracts would follow after getting the appointment letters but nothing has materialised to date. Some who came after 2009 are still being employed in the same manner.”

Another source said the workers did not whether they were permanent or causal workers.

“If one was to be fired, he would not even know what or not to claim because there is no contract,” said the source.

“What we need are contracts stipulating our employment conditions because to us the board is running away from obligations. That is why we were refusing to declare assets before conclusion of employment contracts.”

The workers last year declared their assets albeit under duress.

The source said the absence of a human resource policy had seen Mr Kuwaza inexplicably hiding five brand new top-of-the-range Government vehicles for three years.

The all-terrain vehicles, valued at a total of US$210 000, were meant for for allocation to senior staff at the SPB but are gathering dust at the parking bay of a five-star Harare hotel.

The Toyota Hilux double-cab trucks were meant for four senior procurement executives and finance, administration and human resources director.

“His argument on that issue is that they are still crafting a Vehicle Policy, something which should have been in the contract,” said the source.

A Harare lawyer, Mr Rodgers Matsikidze, said it was an “emergency situation” for such a bona fide organisation to operate without employment contracts.

“This is a landmine for disputes especially now when the Labour Act requires everything to be put in writing,” he said.

“This shows a dereliction of duty by someone because under morden labour jurisprudence even housewives employing maids know that you have to have contracts in writing. This reduces disputes with regards to entitlement and obligations.”

Mr Matsikidze added: “It helps in terms of bringing certainty as to the terms and conditions of the employment contract. This system can enrich someone at the expense of the workers and to me it is an emergency situation or a red robot.”

 

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