Energy sector spared job losses as other sectors burn


Workers in the energy sector say high demand for power has cushioned them from job cutbacks while the rest of the economy is looking at ways of slashing employment costs through retrenchment.

Official data shows that 4 610 companies closed operations between 2011 and October last year, rendering over 64 000 workers jobless, although analysts believe the figures could be higher.

Sectors such as distribution, hospitality, manufacturing, agriculture, mining, construction made the top of the list on job cut backs in the last few years.

But the energy sector only had three people retrenched in the last four years, according to data contained in the 2015 National Budget.

The secretary general of the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU), Martin Chikuni said that high demand for energy meant that there was low labour turnover in the sector.

“There were no retrenchments in the 2013 and in 2014, the last (job cut) was done when NOCZIM (National Oil Company of Zimbabwe) was unbundled into Petrotrade and National Oil Infrastructure Company of Zimbabwe (NOIC) in 2011,” he said.

“The sector does not encounter retrenchments mainly due to the fact that it offers services with inelastic demand. The energy sector products are necessary for day to day existence and their demand is rising in line with population and social development.”

NOCZIM retrenched over 100 employees when government unbundled the parastatal.

Demand for all forms of energy in the country has been on a steady increase over the years, with electricity supplies failing to meet high demand. This in turn has fuelled demand for alternative products such as gas and solar energy.

Demand for fuel has also spiked with the increase in the motor vehicle population in the country since 2009 when the economy dollarized, making it cheaper to import second hand vehicle mainly from Japan.

Licensing of new players in the sector, especially in power generation by the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority, Chikuni said, was also proving to be a boon for the sector.

“As there are more players, there is a higher demand for labour, hence employment creation,” he said.

“The energy sector turnover is therefore low as there are jobs emanating from the new players.”

While job security was ensured for workers in the sector, Chikuni however said the rise in demand for energy services had resulted in the labour force being overworked because of the small pool of professionals.- The Source


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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.


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