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45 merchandisers lose jobs

Business Reporter
A TOTAL of 45 workers are up in arms with their employer, Edge Compass Trading (Pvt) Limited, after they were allegedly laid off under unclear circumstances. The workers were employed as field marketers in Bulawayo by Edge Compass Trading, which was contracted by Proton Bakery, a confectionery firm that extended its operations into the city last year. The workers expressed their disgruntlement in writing in a letter that was seen by our Bulawayo Bureau.

“The circumstances surrounding the issue are that we were employed as field marketers for this company, which was contracted by Proton Bread to sell and market its product from the day Proton opened its doors in Bulawayo,” reads the

letter.

“We worked so hard and gave our all to penetrate the market, which was dominated by Bakers Inn and Lobels Bread.”
The distraught workers said they were surprised when their employer early last month told them with no further explanation that their employment contracts were being terminated on July 31.

“No further explanation was given as to why the contract has been terminated.
‘‘Upon enquiry from Proton management, we were told that Edge Compass Trading management had withdrawn from the contract after the principal contractor had seen that their agent was underpaying employees and unfairly treating employees, which in turn was tarnishing the image of Proton Bakers,” said the former workers.

In addition to worsening their plight, the workers alleged that Edge supervisor Mr Augustine Mangwiro has denied giving them reference letters so that they can apply for similar positions at Proton Bakers, which has since recruited people from elsewhere to fill in the positions of field marketers.

Mr Mangwiro, the former workers said, reportedly told them that we were not allowed to apply for the vacancies at Proton as they were still on contract with Edge.

“He even denied giving us reference letters so that Proton Bakers would consider us and as such we feel we are entitled to legitimate expectation,” said the workers, who further alleged that at the time of their employment they were underpaid.

“We were given a paltry salary of $269 instead of $360. We were supposed to get incentives and other benefits but the employer never paid us the incentives.

“In this instance the employer (Edge) was in clear violation of the law, the unjust enrichment doctrine stipulates that the employer should not be entitled to enrich himself at the expense of the employees by refusing to pay for the services rendered to him, which he has already benefited,” said the workers.

They also alleged that despite the National Social Security Authority (NSSA) pension contributions deducted from the salaries, their employer was not remitting the deductions to the authority.

“Efforts to get audience from Mr Mangwiro and the managing director Mr Basel Mabuza were fruitless as they kept promising to address us on our grievances but we were never addressed,” said the workers.

When contacted by this paper yesterday Mr Mangwiro refused to comment on the matter before promising that Mr Mabuza would call back this reporter for comment.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Mr Mabuza were unsuccessful as his mobile phone was not being answered.

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