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» » » Gweru job evaluation exercise sparks retrenchment fears

Josiah Makombe

…as council wage bill balloons to $20 million per month 

Tinaani Nyabereka

GWERU – Residents’ groups have expressed fear that the job evaluation exercise proposed by City of Gweru will see the local authority retrenching a big chunk of its workforce.

This follows an announcement by Mayor Josiah Makombe that the initial 2015 job evaluation report, which was never implemented upon its completion in 2017, will finally see the light of the day.

In a statement, Gweru United Progressive Residents and Ratepayers Development Association (Guprada) director David Chikore said the exercise was meant to enable council to reduce its workforce from 1 400 to 790.

"The mayor says no employee will be immediately dismissed but he gives no long-term job security guarantee, and this leaves some chances that some people will be affected. The mayor also chooses not to share with us the timeline for this restructuring exercise, and that seems to be a clever way of avoiding accountability,” said Chikore.

He said the fact that council has made it clear that some departments could be closed with employees being redeployed elsewhere heralded frightening chances of mass layoffs.

"The mayor is just making one of his grandstanding and insincere speeches. He is not bold enough to bite the bullet and tell people the harsh truth that council wants to retrench. Sometime in 2019, the mayor and the then town clerk Elizabeth Gwatipedza stated that Town House could not implement the recommendations of the 2015 GIZ-funded job evaluation exercise as they didn't have money to finance retrenchment packages.

"Where has council suddenly got the funds for retrenchment? One way or the other, they can't achieve the 790 figure without retrenching. Could this be a ploy by Town House to arm twist the restive workforce into abandoning their demands for a wage increase or it's a mere coincidence?” said Chikore.

Gweru Residents and Ratepayers Association (GRRA) executive director Selipiwe Cornelia said the exercise lacked transparency.

"In any organisation, job evaluation is important but at the end, there is need to weigh and see if the results were viable or not. I hope those who came up with report have seen the environment in which the local authority is operating. As a resident association, we are yet to be furnished with the report so that we also understand council's position.

"Six hundred people is a big number of workers for council to retrench considering that some council services are poorly manned due to an insufficient staff complement,” said Conerlia.

In his communication, Makombe said council had since realised the importance of the 2015 report in line with the city’s current financial status.

“In 2015, council embarked on a job evaluation exercise which was funded by GIZ (German International Corporation) to relook at the organogram of the city to make it more effective in terms of service delivery and in tandem with our revenue collection.

“The report was shelved but we have realised it was a good project and felt we need to relook at it and resuscitate it. There are 1 400 employees and with the job evaluation, we will have about 790. With that number, we will save money as every employee of council will be efficient in discharging their duties in terms of service delivery.

"The city’s current average monthly salary bill is about $20 million in the first three months of the year 2021; almost half the council’s average monthly revenue of $47 million during the same period," Makombe.

He further said no employees were to be immediately dismissed as it will be a process.

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