Chitungwiza workers forego allowances

HARARE - Chitungwiza municipal workers have resolved to forego their allowances to ensure regular payment of their salaries as council reels from a deep financial crisis.

without pay, agreed at last week’s workers’ council meeting to have their housing, transport, water and electricity allowances scrapped for the next six months to enable the struggling municipality to recover from the financial quagmire it finds itself in.

Ephraim Katsina, the chairperson of Zimbabwe Urban Council Workers Union (ZUCWU) which represents Chitungwiza employees, confirmed the development, saying the move had been necessitated by council’s failure to raise enough revenue.

Katsina said council had proposed to either introduce special measures to avoid retrenchment by reducing working hours as enunciated in chapter 28 (01) section 12 of the Labour Act or maintain the status quo but employees instead suggested that allowances be scrapped for six months as the other option would have affected their pensions.

He acknowledged it was tantamount to unfair labour practice but said the workers’ decision was the better of the three options available.

“Council is bankrupt and struggling to pay us and we have not been paid since October so the move is meant to give council some breathing space.

“It is better to sacrifice allowances and get paid our salaries consistently than to keep allowances and then go for four months without pay.

“We had an option to keep them or reduce our working days to two weeks per month but that would have been suicidal,” said Katsina.

Chitungwiza council employees have endured long periods of late payment of their salaries since 2008 leading to numerous strikes by the employees amid allegations of corruption by management and councillors, some of whom have been fired by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.

In November last year, council workers went on an industrial action that almost paralysed service delivery over non-payment of salaries.

The strike was declared illegal by Labour minister Paurina Mpariwa.

The strike was characterised by ugly scenes of violence.

ZUCWU members who had ignored the strike called by the Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Council Workers Union, a rival union affiliated to the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions, were beaten up and threatened after reporting for work. - Mugove Tafirenyika

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