14 May 2014

Tanzania: Striking Tazara Workers Decry Inaction

FINANCIAL constraints currently facing the Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA) have compelled more than 1,200 employees to strike over non-payment of their three-month salaries.

The workers and leaders of the Tanzania Railway Workers' Union (TRAWU) interviewed in Dar es Salaam accused the management of not being innovative enough to generate sufficient revenues.

Management has persistently attributed "the sharp decline in earnings and diminished operational capacity due to badly maintained infrastructure" as the major obstacle to smooth operations.

TRAWU Chairman, Dar es Salaam Office, Mr Yasini Mleke, said the workers deserved commendation for being on duty since February without any payment, adding that they (workers) were still "in high spirit to resume duties only if payments were honoured judiciously".

"The workers have gone hungry since February. They have survived on borrowed food from shops and some have already been taken to local government offices to answer charges of unsettled debts.

The hardships are intolerable and the management does not seem to take the trouble to settle the matter," Mr Mleke lamented.

However, the TAZARA Head of Communications, Mr Conrad Simuchile, refuted negligence allegations, saying that the management was equally hurt for hardships endured by all workers, the bottom line for which was lack of capital to kick-start operations.

"In the last 12 months, Tazara generated on average, revenue at the tune of 2.5 million US dollars.

Out of the amount, at least 1.4 million US dollars go to workers' monthly salaries apart from fuel to run the locomotives, repair of broken bridges or derailed sections and other necessities," Mr Simuchile explained.

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