BULAWAYO, May 12 (The Source)—National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers have refused to end their strike after the government paid them $3 million, about four percent of the $68 million they are owed in unpaid wages, an official has said.
“They (workers) haven’t yet returned to work and we appeal to them to do that. The strike has negatively affected us and we are really sympathising with the plights of workers,” NRZ public relations Fanuel Masikati said.
Government this week released about $3 million to pay the workers in a bid to end their strike which has entered its second month.
Workers went on strike March protesting after going for 15 months without pay.
Workers who spoke to The Source Thursday on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation said government was taking them for granted.
“How dare they do that? We are owed more than $60 million, but the government is giving us a paltry $3 million which is too way far below what we are owed. We are not going to report to work unless our plights have been met,” workers said.
NRZ board chairman Larry Mavima said workers risk being fired since the strike was illegal.
He said they will approach the courts and apply for a disposal order.
“We have paid what we can as NRZ in terms of salaries and dues but workers are refusing to report back to work. We issued them with a show cause order and for those who will fail to come and tell us why they are on an illegal strike, we will terminate their contracts using a disposal order,” he said.
Responding to a question in Parliament last week, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development Joram Gumbo said they had paid about $3 million to the workers and urged them to go back to work.The money was raised from a debt payment to NRZ by the GMB.
He said among the measures to generate revenue, his ministry requested the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to allow those who were indebted to the NRZ to give the ministry Treasury Bills in order to assist in paying the workers.
The strike by the 4,000 NRZ workers has halted operations at the company, causing delays in the transportation of imported wheat and maizefor drought relief. The parastatalis saddled with a $144 million debt.
Last year, the volume of goods moved by NRZ tumbled to 2,8 million tonnes from 3,5 million in 2014.