MASVINGO - Chicken Inn employees at Exor have approached the National Employment Council (NEC) seeking action against gross labour malpractices at the company including alleged acts of sexual misconduct by a senior manager at the eatery.
In a letter to the Complex Manager, Chicken Inn Exor Branch dated August 22, 2016, Fambai Mandeya, who is the Designated Agent for Catering at NEC Masvingo Regional Office, says on his visit to the food court on August 18, employees raised many grievances including sexual abuse, illegal deductions of salaries and understaffing.
The letter was also copied to Jemitiasi Chirevo, the Workers Committee chairperson and to Elliot Madzore, the Organising Secretary for the Zimbabwe Catering and Hotel Workers Union.
At the centre of the sexual misconduct allegation is Justice Rusike, a senior manager at the food outlet who is being accused of sending explicit sexual messages to Adolene Chipumuro, a junior employee who has since been fired after she allegedly spurned Rusike's sexual advances.
Mandeya is now investigating some of the allegations with powers vested in him in terms of Section 63 and 93 of the Labour Act, Chapter 28.01 and Section 93(5) of the Labour Amendment Act No 5 of 2015.
"The above cited are allegations being raised against you. It is your right to proffer defence in line with the audi alteram partem rule. May we have a meeting to discuss the above listed as soon as possible.
"You are free to propose the date failure of which this office will have no choice but to fix the date on behalf of the parties," the letter reads.
The letter also contains a long list of other grievances which include staff being forced to pay for losses incurred by the company including gross profit drops.
The employees also complain about being forced to sign leave forms when in actual fact, they will be reporting for duty and overtime not being paid.
Chicken Inn Human Resources manager, Misheck Muleya professed ignorance to sexual harassment allegations and promised to investigate the issue.
"We do not know of a sexual harassment case that has been reported to NEC, instead we have a case of alleged unfair dismissal for which the employee was dismissed for a clear case of theft after having been caught on CCTV stealing. Dismissed employee maybe making those allegations to tarnish the image of the manager as mere sour grapes," Muleya wrote in an email to TellZim News.
When asked how far the investigations into the alleged abuses had gone, Mandeya said they had already had a meeting with Rusike and some issues were resolved.
"We did not discuss any sexual harassment issue because Adoline was dismissed from work and she was not called to the meeting. I suggest she report her case to police because NEC cannot deal with employees who are already fired," Mandeya said.
Chipumuro vowed to take her matter to the police saying she is disappointed by the manner NEC and Chicken Inn had handled her case.
She alleged Muleya had failed to protect her and was working in cahoots with Rusike whom he allegedly tipped off when she forwarded the messages to him.
"I forwarded Rusike's inappropriate messages to Muleya to get his support but to my surprise, he quickly went behind my back and tipped off Rusike. I was puzzled the following day when I received a written warning saying I was not doing my job well and I was stealing from the company. A few weeks later, I got dismissed from work after being falsely accused of eating food from the stock. I am the only one who was dismissed for the alleged offence although others were also involved," said Chipumuro.
She expressed shock that NEC had already entered into a meeting with Rusike yet they failed to call the complainants to the meeting.
"I was not even called to the meeting with NEC thus denied a chance to list my grievances and present evidence. It's so sad how these managers take advantage of poor and young women using money and office. I suspect the NEC person was bribed and they are even calling me a thief. Many women are being abused at Chicken Inn but they are scared to speak out and some are sleeping with Rusike to keep their jobs," she added.news