Union says 560 workers to lose jobs over closure of power stations

Union says 560 workers to lose jobs over closure of power stations

By Agencies

The Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU) has expressed concern over the exclusion of unions from discussions to close and repurpose three coal-fired power stations.

The union says 560 workers will be affected by the closure of the decision.

According to ZEWU the Zimbabwe Power Company (ZPC), which owns the power stations, did not consult the union about the impending closure, describing the me as unfair labour practice.

The union has since written to the ZPC management, warning it will challenge the processes if management fails to engage the union about the decommissioning of stations.

The union fears that some of the decisions being made in its absence will have a detrimental effect on the working conditions and welfare of workers.

According to officials, the power stations to be closed are Bulawayo, Harare, and Munyati as they were built over half a century ago and are no longer in production.

ZEWU general secretary, Martin Chikuni, says:

“We are seriously concerned by the unilateral approach of management at ZPC, as it is clearly in violation of the principles of social justice and democracy at the workplace as enshrined in the Labour Act (Chapter 28:01). The employees have a right to be involved and participate, through their trade union, in decisions affecting their interests at the workplace.”

IndustriALL Sub-Saharan Africa regional secretary, Paule France Ndessomin, says:

“Engaging trade unions on issues that affect workers’ interests and welfare is one of the demands that we have for a transition from coal powered fired stations to be just. This explains why we support ZEWU’s efforts for social dialogue on the closure and repurposing of power stations in Zimbabwe. There is no Just Transition without workers involvement.”

The union wants to engage the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings management following an announcement by the Government of Zimbabwe that ZESA Holdings and its subsidiaries, ZPC and Powertel Communications, will become part of the state-owned enterprises that will make up the Mutapa Investment Fund (MIF) formerly Zimbabwe Sovereign Wealth Fund.

The union says workers’ futures at these power companies are uncertain as the conditions under which they were transferred to MIF are unclear. The union also says it was not consulted when the decision was made.

Zimbabwe’s power generation is mainly from hydro and thermal power stations in Kariba and Hwange respectively. Less than five per cent of the country’s energy is from solar.