Struggling Bulawayo firm Marvo Stationery Manufacturers is facing an uncertain future after sending its entire workforce on unpaid leave with effect from September 1 when it failed to attract new investment.
The firm was placed under judicial management by the High Court last September and in May, the judicial manager Chrispen Mwete of C. Mwete and Company gave the company up to 90 days to get a $1.5 million rescue package or face liquidation.
However, with the three month period elapsing last month, Mwete served all workers with letters asking them to go for unpaid leave.
“I have sort legal opinion and also conversed with the Deputy Master of the High Court and both parties agreed that in those terms, as judicial manager I was still accumulating debt and that was not acceptable by law,” reads the letter signed by Mwete on August 18, 2015.
“With this in mind, I called a meeting with the workers’ committee in the presence of your trade union representative, where we had a consensus that the only logical thing to do was for the leave to continue, but unpaid with effect from the 1st of September 2015.”
Mwete said the workers who were due for pension would not return to work should the company reopen.
“We are in the process of discussing with the pension houses so that we get the pensions reinstated. The issue of company reopening is subject to availability of funds,” reads the letter.
Mwete also said workers representatives would be approaching his office at least once a month to check on the company’s progress.
The company has struggled lately because of high cost obsolete machinery and competition from cheap imports. Its troubles continued despite receiving $758 000 in 2012 under the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf).
It owes its 103 workers, who have gone for 20 months without pay, in excess of more than $200 000. In June last year, the workers received payments of $10 each.
The company was established in 1966 and at its peak, employed 600 people.
A report prepared by Mwete in April indicated that Marvo Stationery directors swindled the company of more than $150 000, leaving it insolvent.
The report also indicated that the directors had failed to account for over $100 000 from the Dimaf loan.-The Source