Maputo — Workers of the Beira Municipal bus company (TMB) returned to work on Saturday, after a five day strike in protest at the cut in their wages imposed when the ownership of the company was transferred from the central state to the Beira municipality.
According to a report in Monday's issue of the independent daily "O Pais", the workers received guarantees from the company management and from the Transport Ministry that their wages will be restored to their former levels, and they will be compensated before they are obliged to sign new contracts.
Deputy Transport Minister Manuela Rebelo went to Beira to head her ministry's negotiating team. Agreement was reached on Friday afternoon, allowing the buses to start running again on Saturday.
The general manager of TMB, alberto Meque, confirmed the arrangement whereby the workers will sign new contracts with TMB, and will be compensated for the losses involved in coming off the old, more favourable contracts they used to have with TPB, as the company was called when it was run by the state rather than the municipality. But Meque insisted that the state will take responsibility for paying the compensation.
From the moment the company became a municipal enterprises, Beira Municipal Council had announced that it could not possibly continue paying the workers the old wages. It believed it had every right to pay new, and lower, wages because TPB was being dissolved, and TMB was legally a completely new company.
The company is grossly overmanned. It has over 200 workers, but only ten TMB buses are currently operational.
Januario Baloi, of the TMB workers' commission, said the agreement was that the workers would receive 30 days notice of the new contracts, and in that interim period the compensation would be calculated.
According to "O Pais", 14,000 Beira residents depend on the TMB buses for their daily transport, a figure that seems too high for a company with only ten buses on the roads.