NRZ workers bay for boss' blood

HARARE - Enginemen at the troubled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) have downed tools protesting against a management decision to pay them $65 to assist pay tuition fees as the new school year begins.

NRZ employees have had nothing to smile about as the paltry amount can hardly pay for school fees or buy uniforms and other supplies.

When the Daily News crew arrived at the NRZ headquarters in Bulawayo, disgruntled enginemen who are members of the Railways Association of Enginemen (RAE) were carrying placards, demanding management’s attention; while the rest of the employees were barred from protesting.

Secretary-general of RAE Wilmore Wilfred Muzah, said management decided to pay $65 as advance salary to cater for children’s school fees, which he described as an insult to the dignity of the employees.

“We are protesting againsta unilateral decision made by management to pay us $65 which they termed advance pay-towards school fees. It is indeed an insult to the workers,” Muzah said.

 “Management have sent their children to school, while we fail to pay school fees for our own children because of lack of money.”

Cash-strapped NRZ owes its employees seven months’ salaries, which, according to the workers, averages at
$4 000 for each worker.

“We were last paid in May last year. Management also owe us allowances which date back to 2009 and 2010,” Muzah said.

RAE says while NRZ management is failing to pay workers’ salaries, business has improved since the 2008 economic meltdown when the railway company made hefty losses.

“The company has witnessed an improvement in traffic levels and shifts have increased, so it does not justify the delays in salaries because the company is making money. Everything else is improving, but the employees’ welfare continue to deteriorate,” RAE Bulawayo councillor Juniel Manyere said.  

The enginemen are also baying for the blood of NRZ managing director, former military man, Mike Karakadza whom they accuse of failing the workers.

“We are saying that he has failed and he must go. Whoever appointed him must recall him,” an irate Manyere said.

Under Karakadzai’s leadership, who many workers view as having been foisted on the railway utility by President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF, NRZ operations have deteriorated.

The railway parastatal continues to struggle as evidenced by losses it has suffered as a result of mismanagement and failed performance consistent with rail transport. - Nyasha Chingono

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