SIMON MUNTEMBA writes
SEVERAL former workers of Chreso University are up in arms against their employer, after they were allegedly laid off under unclear circumstances without being paid their dues.
Some of the former workers, mostly lecturers, have also accused management of having failed to pay them over K4.7 million emoluments since June last year when their contracts expired.
The distraught workers said they were surprised when Chreso management put them on forced leave without any explanation and refused to pay for the services they had rendered to the institution.
One of the lecturers, who asked not to be identified for fear of victimisation, said Chreso University management laid off lecturers under unclear circumstances without paying them.
“The trend and practice of Chreso management, which unfortunately is a Christian institution, is that when the money reaches the level where they feel uncomfortable to pay their workers, they create a problem and either put a lecturer on forced leave just to frustrate him or even fire him for no reason.
“In fact, even some of us whose contracts came to an end in June last year, they haven’t paid us. About K4.7 million was due to be paid in June last year for our previous contracts, but to date we haven’t been paid and no proper explanation is given.
“Unfortunately, some people have even died out of depression without being paid their benefits,” the source said.
Another source said a managing dean of one of the Chreso campuses was unceremoniously laid off after serving for less than three months to avoid paying his benefits.
She also said workers at Chreso Ndola campus have not been paid their salaries for the last three months.
She said her contract came to an end last year, but she had not receieved her gratuity yet.
“Since last year, nothing tangible has been communicated to me. They have not even calculated my gratuity despite having made several follow-ups.
“It’s sad that we are treated in this way after having worked so hard and given our all to ensure the institution penetrates the market,” she said.
But Reverend Helmut Reutter, who is the founder and chancellor of Chreso University described the allegations as concocted stories and lies aimed at denting the image of the institution.
Rev Reutter, who referred all the queries to vice chancellor Christopher Simoonga, said, “These people are just trying to dent our image but they should know that God himself is in control. These are all concocted stories and lies.”
But Dr Simoonga has confirmed that the institution owes some of its current and former employees some money and pledged management’s commitment to paying them.
He, however, denied owing the workers K4.7 million saying the figure was not correct.
“As far as management is concerned, we are now doing the audit of 2018 accounts. So I think the audit will be completed next week and then we will be able to establish how much the institution owes the workers and those we have separated with. We started with the system audit and now we are doing the financial audit.
“As an institution we are committed to fulfilling our labour obligations in terms of paying those that have separated with us depending on the terms on which we have separated,” Dr Simoonga said.
He said the university was investigating some of its former workers.
“And yes some of our employees are on leave pending investigations. It’s a normal practice and for now they are innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
Chreso is a privately owned Christian university.