By Jokoniah Mawopa
Tongaat Hullet has floated a voluntary retrenchment package to its employees targeting an unspecified number.
According to a memorandum that was sent out by the Managing Director Aiden Mhere on the 11th February 2020, the company has “initiated a process to invigorate its human capital capabilities as a response to tough trading conditions”.
The effective date of the mutual termination shall be 1st march 2020 The company is offering a gratuity equivalent to two-weeks pay for every year served, retirement bonus, 6 months severance pay based on basic salary plus COLA, 12 months medical cover, relocation allowance and Normal terminal benefits that includes three months salary in lieu of notice, cash in lieu of accrued leave days and payment of pension benefits.
The company has appealed to its employees to take up the opportunity to voluntarily terminate their contracts in order to take an early rest or take up the entrepreneurial challenge to create wealth through other gainful economic projects. Commenting on the voluntary package, Gift Maoneka the FFAWUZ legal officer said.
“The voluntary retrenchment offer made by Tongaat is as a matter of procedure, the initial process which an employer may take. In terms of the law the employer can give notice of retrenchment to the affected employees and the package provided by the Act is two weeks' salary per each year served unless if parties agree to a better package. Voluntary retrenchment packages, in nature offer improved packages, whether the offer is sufficient or not. Employees due for retirement are encouraged to take up the offer given that retirement has no special benefits save for your pension. The process of voluntary retrenchment may indicate a likely compulsory retrenchment exercise in the near future.”
Tongaat Hulett's is the sole sugar manufacturing company in Zimbabwe and they have three sugar estates in Zimbabwe are in the Chiredzi District and they border one another. These are, Triangle Estate in Triangle , Hippo Valley Estates and Mkwasine Estate in Chiredzi. Tongaat has workforce of around 20 000 and the number varies with the period of the year as a great percentage of their work is seasonal. Sugarcane was first planted in the region in 1931 by Thomas Murray McDougall and was first processed in 1939. Due to the economic decline the country is going through, like at Hippo Valley, production of sugar has fallen in recent years. The decline in production has been compounded by a large body of displaced farmers who have settled on some of its productive fields, further hampering production.