TANZANIA Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) workers have vowed not to go back to work until their salaries have been paid and are given assurance of future payments.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Transport, Dr Shaaban Mwinjaka told the 'Daily News' that his office is following up on the outstanding salaries for the workers, noting that any time from now the money will be paid to the TAZARA accounts.
"I have been following up on the issues with Treasury...the money will be paid into the TAZARA accounts soon," he stressed.
On his part the Chairman of Tanzania Railway Workers Union (TRAWU), Dar es Salaam Zone Mr Yusuf Mandai told the 'Daily News' that the TAZARA workers will not resume duties until all outstanding salaries are paid and that they are given assurance of future payments made.
Mr Mandai said paying out the money in batches will not help the workers who have escalating debts to pay including school fees of their children. "We want to be paid all the three months salaries and given assurance of future salary payments," he said.
He added that the workers want the rail authority to allow the handling cargo at regional offices in both Tanzania and Zambia which will allow for more cargo to be transported.
"If autonomy could be given back to regional offices, we will see more cargo transported but currently it is only the headquarters that deals in bulk cargo especially from large businesses in Zambia who mainly transport fertiliser and copper are handled," he lamented.
"Once these businesses refuse to use the railway line or delay payments it means you have no other sources of raising money. But if the regional offices were allowed to handle cargo, we would have both bulk and small volume cargo being transported," he explained.
He added that if the autonomy is given back to the regional offices, revenues will increase and both governments will not need to dip into their pockets to foot salaries for workers, every time TAZARA fails to raise money. He noted that TAZARA regional offices handle passengers, but they do not handle cargo.
Mr Mandai urged all Tanzanians who use the TAZARA line to bear with the workers who are fighting for their rights. TAZARA workers went on strike last Monday demanding payments of salaries from February in some cases and March and April in all cases.
Permanent Secretary (PS), Ministry of Transport, Dr Shaaban Mwinjaka, told the 'Daily News' that the government will settle salaries of February and April while Zambia will settle salaries of March and May.