ZEWU undresses Chifamba in parliament
The Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union on Monday grilled ZESA chief executive officer Josh Chifamba as a leader who is not sincere and insensitive to workers’ plight at the parastatal.
ZEWU further launched a broadside at Chifamba, branding him a leader who has developed a tendency of suiting the law as he feels like, ignoring the bread and butter issues of workers.
Presenting its list of grievances to the Labour parliamentary portfolio committee, ZEWU National Organizing Secretary Joseph Charlie highlighted that since the dollarization of the economy in 2009, the gap between the poor and the rich in ZESA Holdings had widened- a result that he explained was caused by management at the parastatal which was selfish.
“Remittance of subscriptions dues from ZESA Holdings is coming in late and that is a stumbling block,”said Charlie.
ZEWU accused ZESA of creating some parallel trade unions in a bid to weaken workers.
“ZESA as we speak is creating some yellow parallel trade unions with the intention of dividing workers and decapitating ZEWU.Recently we have seen unions such as Energy Sector Union of Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Generation Workers Union of Zimbabwe all of which are sponsored by ZESA Holdings Human Resources Department,”Charlie charged.
“Last year ZESA refused to abide by a labour Statutory Instrument preferring to work with workers committee on issues of disputes thereby making matters of grievance hearings taking too long to be attended to.
There is rampant casualisation of labour at ZESA…we have had examples where contract workers who had worked for 3 to 8 years having their contracts been abruptly terminated.
In 2012 during the CBA negotiations, four other companies gave the nod but only ZESA resisted.The management later on cited incapacity to pay then went on to apply to the High Court against a matter that was supposed to be dealt with at the Labour Court.ZEWU then referred the matter to the Criminal Court where it is going to be heard.
During the 2012 CBA dispute, 135 workers including President Angeline Chitambo were suspended. Later on 128 employees were acquitted, while four others including President Chitambo were fired…the matter is however before the courts of law.”
Charlie said it was worrying that ZESA no longer takes issues to do with workers’ health and safety issues as priorities.
He gave examples of the rising cases of workers who are either injured or electrocuted while at work.
“All in all, ZESA has become law unto themselves…this must be looked into as a matter of urgency,”he said.
When asked to give ZESA’s side of the story, Chifamba could only give flimsy answers.
“We are currently facing cash challenges as you are aware our clients owe us money amounting to over $700 million.
Its not true that we are sponsoring yellow unions and we will never take such actions.With regards to the CBA 2012 dispute, we will respect any outcome determined by the court,”he said.
However legislators in the Labour Committee led by Chiwundura House of Assembly member Kizito Chivamba took turns to lambast ZESA especially on issues regarding unilaterally firing of workers and ignoring healthy and safety issues of workers.The legislators also accused ZESA for reneging on its pledge not to disconnect electricity on default clients.