6 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Unpaid Chitungwiza Workers Give Up Work

Photo: The Herald
Zimbabwe National Army Parade

CHITUNGWIZA municipal workers have downed tools indefinitely over 13 months unpaid salaries and the failure by the council management to remit contributions deducted from workers' pay.

The strike started last Wednesday when some workers downed tools after a deadlock in negotiations with management over the payment of their outstanding salaries and intensified Friday with all departments joining the industrial action.

The workers are owed salaries for 13 months.

Chitungwiza Municipality Workers Union spokesperson, Ephraim Katsina said the job action comes in the wake of management's failure to honour its obligations both to staff and residents.

"We are going to strike until they address our concerns. We are failing to take basic care of our families and the management is not forthcoming, so we will not work," said Katsina.

Katsina said the management failed to adhere to an arbitrary ruling which expired on December 31 last year and to date has not paid them their dues.

"Hupenyu hwedu hauchina maturo apa unonzi uya kubasa mazuva ose asi havasikuda kutipa zvatakashandira," he said.

This is the second industrial action that the workers have undertaken within 60 days as the local authority continues to struggle with serious financial problems.

Chitungwiza is reeling under a $50 million debt and massive corruption which saw former town clerk, Godfrey Tanyanyiwa, being jailed.

An Independent arbitrator in the salary dispute last year ordered the council to clear all salary arrears by this July.

The workers accuse the local authority of misplaced priorities and outright pillaging of council resources by senior staffers.

The industrial action has affected service delivery with rate payers complaining they are now the scapegoats.

Chitungwiza council last week told parliament that it was owed US$27 million by residents, hence its failure to meet its obligations.

They said they have since applied to President Robert Mugabe as the situation was getting worse with workers becoming violent towards management.

Town clerk, George Makunde, said top management were living in fear of hungry workers who have gone for ten months without pay and have been terrorising their bosses in demand of the outstanding salaries.

"The working environment is not safe for the management especially these girls who are being attacked every day. It's a tense situation that we have to deal with on a daily basis," Makunde said.

"You (MPs) must come and see for yourselves; the workers have a military mentality. I believe the challenges that we are facing as council are now beyond us and need everyone's assistance and input.

"The Chitungwiza case should be made a national project so that we all work for the resuscitation of the town so that we all may envy to be associated with it again.

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