MINES minister Walter Chidhakwa has challenged the board and management of Hwange Colliery Company to come up with innovative ways of increasing productivity to boost its dwindling revenue base without embarking on retrenchment which he said was detrimental to the country’s economic revival.
Addressing journalists after a closed door meeting with colliery management and employees yesterday, Chidhakwa said challenges affecting the colliery needed to be tackled in a manner that does away with unnecessary expenditure without resorting to wholesale job cuts.
“I am personally against the so- called retrenchment and we need to give a lot more thought to the workers who have been with the colliery in all these trying times. This issue has to be handled differently and the onus is on the board and management to ensure that that this organisation is salvaged,” he said.
Chidhakwa also appealed to all colliery employees to give the recently appointed managing director Thomas Makore time and support to come up with ways of reviving the company’s fortunes.
He paid tribute to the colliery employees for their resilience despite going for close to 11 months without pay and not embarking on any industrial job action.
“I therefore challenge the board chairperson to work closely with such workers in these trying times as the issue of retrenchment is currently off the table as the company seeks to increase production and also at the same time intensify its market penetration,” said Chidhakwa.
He said the government would continue to support the colliery’s recapitalisation programme as the major shareholder. Hwange this week announced that it would retrench at least half of its more than 3 200 workforce in the second half of this year.
The colliery’s board chairman Farai Mutamangira in a market update, said the retrenchments were part of a raft of measures to turn around the company.
However, the move has been met with strong opposition from workers who say the company’s problems stem from a top heavy structure.