THE cash-strapped Grain Marketing Board (GMB) has ordered all its 3 600 employees to go on a compulsory two-week long unpaid leave each month, starting next month as it battles a crippling financial squeeze.
In a circular dated December 18 and addressed to all staff members, GMB deputy general manager human resources, Sibongile Muchirahondo, admitted that the parastatal was facing financial problems hence the decision to cut down on the number of working days.
GMB has not paid its employees for the past four months and owes farmers who delivered grain in the 2013 to 2014 summer cropping season $37 million.
The parastatal, which prides itself in being the granary of the country, has many branches dotted around the country. Part of the circular reads: “The Grain Marketing Board is currently experiencing serious financial challenges resulting in accrual of salary arrears and statutory obligations for the past four months. This has therefore, adversely affected employee welfare.”
Muchirahondo said there were a number of other factors that had affected GMB finances, which included non-remittance of handling fees and storage charges by the government, depleted working capital for commercial activities, uncompetitive selling price due to high maize procurement pricing, competition from imports and unaffordable salary or wage bill of around $2 million per month.
“In view of the above and in terms of the provisions of Section 12D of the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) on compulsory unpaid leave or short time work as a measure to avoid retrenchment, employees shall be proceeding on two weeks compulsory rotational unpaid leave monthly effective January 2 2015 until further notice,” Muchirahondo said.
“Notice of seven days shall be served to individual employees before proceeding on compulsory unpaid leave. Employees shall receive half of their monthly gross earnings and benefits commensurate to days worked.”
Muchirahondo pleaded with depot managers to follow the new directive.
Workers yesterday accused their bosses of insincerity over the salary issue saying top GMB officials recently bought themselves 30 top–of-the range Toyota D4D off-road vehicles.