A WAR has erupted between Bulawayo Beitbridge Railway (BBR) Company and its employees over the former’s intention to retrench 20 artisans and relocate to South Africa, reportedly without following proper procedures.
Senior Court Reporter
The company, which was reportedly recently acquired by a South African entity, Grindrods Zimbabwe, presently employs 26 artisans, 20 of whom are involved in refurbishing of locomotives, while others are stationed at the Motive Power Depot popularly referred to as Diesel Depot at National Railways Complex near the Bulawayo Railway main station.
A source in the company told Southern Eye that the company indicated that it wanted to relocate to South Africa without the services of the artisans and only remain with those based at the diesel depot.
They said the company cited the retrenchment as being caused by financial constraints, which the workers have denied, arguing that the motive was driven by unfair business practices.
Workers have since resisted the move and have vowed to fight their employer until a better solution was found.
“We can’t allow that,” one of the affected workers said on condition of anonymity. “The company has a lot of money. They can’t hide behind the issue of financial constraints.
“This company does not operate in Zimbabwe alone but in Mozambique, DRC, Sierra Leone, Benin, South Africa, Malawi and Swaziland. Where is all that money going?”
Another employee said they felt the company was victimising them.
“The reasons are unfounded,” he said. “To make matters worse they are not following proper procedures, which is unlawful. We are going to block the retrenchments.”
This is not the first time that BBR has been embroiled in a wrangle as it was involved in legal war with 29 of its former employees it had retrenched in 2009.