Dunlop strike threatens industrial recovery: Bloch

Eric Bloch

THE on-going strike at Dunlop Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd is a reflection of the division between labour and employers and is threatening industrial recovery in Bulawayo, economic analyst Eric Bloch has said.

Own Correspondent

Bloch said the industrial action, which yesterday entered its 10th day, will not only affect Dunlop as an entity, but threatens the general recovery of the industry as a whole.

He said there was a possibility for the strike to spread to the other companies battling to keep their workers happy in the face of a harsh economic environment.

“The Dunlop strike is a reflection of the division between labour and the employers and this is threatening the general recovery of industry as other workers can adopt the same,” Bloch said.

The industrial action started on July  12 after Dunlop reportedly failed to honour a ruling from an arbitrator who had given the company a 14-day period to negotiate for a salary increase with its workers.

Low-paid workers at the firm earn a gross salary of $108 a month, but are now demanding at least $250 per month.

Dunlop management last Wednesday gave the striking employees a one-day ultimatum threatening to fire them if they did not comply.

The workers, however, have defied the order and are still vowing not to return to work until management reviews their paltry salaries, which are expected to affect the company, already operating below 50% capacity.

Industry in Bulawayo continues to battle with low capitalisation. Bloch added that the Dunlop on-going strike, if not contained, would have a contiageous effect to other already struggling companies.

Bulawayoo last year alone recorded 84 company closures and 64 are reported to be on the verge of collapse, battling also with financial constraints.

According the Industry and Commerce ministry, industry in Bulawayo needs $73 million to recapitalise, but is failing to attract investments .
The disbursement of the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund has been slow with only $13 million out of the initial $40 million so far being allocated to companies.

According to Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, this year industry capacity utilisation is expected to slump to below 44% attributed to financial constraints.