Monday, October 18, 2021

Water Utilities adds to retrenchment crisis

Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) will retrench some of its employees April next year, Sunday Standard can confirm. While WUC Chief Executive Officer Mmetla Masire is reported to have claimed ignorance on the looming retrenchment at his organisation, documents leaked to the Sunday Standard show in detail how WUC intends to carry out the retrenchment exercise, which will lay off some of the organisation’s more than 3000 employees. This publication also has a copy of a memo from Masire to WUC employees, dated November 21 and informing them of ‘’group counselling” scheduled for 12 December. In his letter to the employees, Masire does not state exactly what the employees will be counselled for but documents in our possession state that ‘’all employees shall be counselled to enable them to cope with the changes”. Masire wrote in his memo, ‘’progress on the design of the WUC structure, both the macro and micro will be communicated to staff in January 2017”. He also informs the employees that ‘’ such a structure, coupled with our processes will make WUC more efficient and set the organisation on a path to greater efficiency and financial sustainability”.

In the leaked documents however, it shows that WUC implemented a Corporate Strategic Plan for the period 2015-2018 code-named ‘iTEMOGO PROJECT’.  The project team has since finalised its submissions which will be implemented effective April 1st, 2017. According to the report, it was recognized that, some employees may be required to vacate their positions for various reasons such as lack of suitable qualifications and that some employees’ qualifications may not match the job requirements of the new structure.

‘’On the basis of the foregoing, it was decided that the Corporation should put in place an exit management programme to facilitate the exiting of affected employees”, reads part of the report.

The project team also wrote that in developing the exit scheme, consideration was made to the organisation’s current economic status. The team also mentions that they were guided by the General Guidelines for Retrenchment Procedures in Public Sector Enterprises. Accordingly, WUC shall invite eligible employees to apply for the exit package voluntarily. ‘’Notwithstanding this procedure, the Corporation shall from time to time identify employees it deems should be exited through the programme and advise them to apply accordingly. However, the Corporation shall maintain the right to accept or decline applications for voluntary exit”, reads part of the plan.  

The documents reveal that the final authorization for exit shall be that of the Corporation. The documents also state that WUC will block from the voluntary exit those employees whose talent is still required by the Corporation. ‘’ Only employees who have worked for a minimum of 10 consecutive years, are over 40 years of age and do not meet the requisite qualifications in the new job profiles and are deemed by the Corporation to be untrainable to acquire the required qualifications will be eligible for the exit package”,  the documents state.

WUC will pay retrenched employees a ten (10) months’ salary lieu of notice across board. According to the project team’s submission, payment in lieu of notice shall not discriminate in terms of length of service. The normal notice period shall be waived, but not withstanding this, a proper handing over programme shall be agreed with the supervisor. Exiting employees will be paid a separation pay of sixty (60) working days for each year worked with a minimum of P50 000-00. The affected employees will be paid leave days accrued up to date of termination. All retrenched employees will be paid the sum of P7 500 each instead of providing them with Corporation transport.  Those who will be retrenched through the voluntary exit will get P25 000 relocation payment while those on involuntary exit will get P20 000. Group Life Insurance cover will cease immediately upon termination of the Contract of Employment. The Corporation will also allow retrenched Bomaid members nine (9) months free subscription to continue to enjoy the benefits after withdrawal from the Corporation. The nine (9) months shall be in addition to the three months already provided for under Bomaid rules. This however does not include an employee who joins another company during the nine month period.

Retenched employees residing in the Corporation houses shall be allowed to retain the houses for a minimum of three months from the date of termination of employment and shall pay normal Corporation rentals and meet utilities costs (water, electricity and telephone). Rentals and payments for utilities shall be deducted from employee’s terminal benefits. 

Employees on training will be allowed to exit but the Corporation will not continue to pay for tuition and training allowance. Short-term loans which include staff advance will be deducted from exit packages. Employees who bought motor vehicles through the Motor Vehicle Loan Guarantee Scheme shall pay three months’ instalments in advance and the employee shall arrange for refinancing of the loan within three months. The outstanding balance on the loan shall be settled from the exit package.

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