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Poor economy forces GBM’s firms to send 250 workers on upaid leave

OVER 250 employees at GBM Milling and Arizona Transport have been sent on unpaid leave due to the prevailing economic crisis the companies are facing.

A check at the two companies, both owned by UPND vice-president Geoffrey Bwalya Mwamba (GBM), found production works stalled and only care and maintenance was going on.

Company human resource and administration manager Gabriel Musonda explained in an interview that GBM Milling had been forced to realign its operations because of the failure by the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) to extend subsidised maize to the company.

“We have been forced by the government to lay off over 100 employees at GBM Milling due to the prevailing economic situation. This situation has led to low business levels, compounded by the high cost of inputs like electricity and fuel. The failure by the Food Reserve Agency to extend subsidised maize facility to the company has further exacerbated this situation,” Musonda said.

“Arising from the above, the company needs to restrategise and reposition itself for the times ahead. This entails reducing on the production schedules and frequencies. During this period, only a few key personnel shall be retained while the rest shall proceed on unpaid leave until FRA decides to offload subsidised maize which other millers are buying.”

He said GBM Milling was saddened and still in shock that it was not appearing on the list of the 12 local milling companies which FRA had shortlisted for subsidised maize.

 

“We are a local company in business but we are shocked that FRA left us out. We are not on the list of 12 companies that they have picked for subsidised maize, which is very unfortunate. It is for this reason that we have asked some of our staff to proceed on unpaid leave until further notice and we think that this might go on up to the next season,” Musonda said.

 

On Arizona, he said the transport company had sent over 150 workers on unpaid leave because of financial problems the company was now facing.

“Well the government, we are told, has instructed quasi-government departments and other stakeholders that were hiring our courier trucks to stop hiring us for reasons best known to themselves. We have lost a lot of business and this has placed us in a difficult situation and because we are financially stressed, we have sent over 150 workers on unpaid leave until the situation here normalises. Right now, we have placed the company under care and maintenance until further notice,” said Musonda. “And we have notified all statutory bodies – ZRA, NAPSA, Workers Compensation – so that they should not expect any payment from us. People should know that it is the government that it is depriving themselves of all those payments and we do not expect them to pounce on us.”/SM/JC

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