By Eric Chiriga
Multi-national food and drink company, Nestle Zimbabwe, has embarked on a retrenchment exercise, as part of the company’s “business optimisation activities”.
The exercise, which was voluntary, saw more than 20 workers exiting the company, which employs more than a 100.
“Despite our initiatives, and largely due to technological and systems upgrades, we carried out a right-sizing exercise in May 2017,” Ben Ndiaye, cluster manager for Nestlé Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi, told the Daily News.
“To mitigate the impact on affected employees, we offered to those interested, the opportunity to opt for a voluntary early retirement or a voluntary separation,” he said, adding that “most employees left voluntarily, with only one…being affected by redundancy”.
He said the retrenched workers were offered packages in line with Zimbabwe’s labour laws.
“Nestlé Zimbabwe offered the employees an enhanced package going beyond our statutory obligations. The process was performed in line with our values and we have, wherever possible, offered support to employees who elected to leave,” Ndiaye said.
He said he “believes” that the right-sizing exercise, “along with other business optimisation activities, will ensure Nestle Zimbabwe’s continued growth in the long term”.
Ndiaye said the multi-billion dollar nutrition focused group remained committed to Zimbabwe — where they set base more than fifty years ago — and was compliant with the country’s laws, including the indigenisation policy, which compels foreigners to cede majority shareholding in companies to black Zimbabweans.
“Nestlé remains a committed investor in Zimbabwe,” he said.
The group has over the past year invested $30 million plus in refurbishing its factory, among other things.
“As part of a global company, we are committed to sustaining our business across different countries where we operate,” Ndiaye said.
To prove their commitment to Zimbabwe — a southern African nation which has gone through an economic crisis over the past years — Ndiaye said the local unit “invested in capacity increase, product innovation, new technology and systems to adapt to the local environment and with the intention of exporting to neighbouring countries”.
“These initiatives have allowed us to increase our impact to society through business linkage with SMEs,” he said, adding that “today over 200 casual workers, merchandisers, and distributors’ sales force, including bikes sellers, are indirectly employed by Nestlé”.
Ndiaye said despite the right-sizing exercise, the company was offering employment opportunities to Zimbabweans.
“As the situation improves, we shall continue giving opportunities to graduate trainees, in line with our global youth initiative and gender balance commitment.”
“Nestlé encourages sharing and transfer of skills and know-how between our employees from different countries,” he added.
“To date, we have more Zimbabwean colleagues working in other markets, than expatriates working for Nestlé Zimbabwe. We continuously invest in our local talent pool by nominating them to the Nestlé Equatorial African Region Leadership Academy amongst other programmes,” Ndiaye said.
Ndiaye also said that expatriation of workers was normal at Nestlé as it is “part of the group’s DNA”.
“The top management team is a good mix of locals and expats. It is worth to note that Nestlé has more Zimbabwean (seven) expatriates outside the country than locally-based foreign expats,” he explained, adding that “Middle and top management development is being accelerated across the Equatorial African Region (EAR), through our EAR Leadership Academy. The highest participation is from Zimbabwe (25 percent), and all our participants successfully graduated two weeks ago, in presence of the executive vice president for Africa Oceania Asia”. Daily News