NRZ workers demand minister's attention

BULAWAYO - Striking National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers have vowed to continue with their two-hour daily work boycott until Transport and Infrastructure Development minister Obert Mpofu addresses their grievances.

The workers began a nationwide two-hour daily strike last week on Monday with a view of ending it on Thursday but have prolonged it as they have vowed to stay put.

Having failed to buy into the explanations by the acting general manager Lewis Mugwada two weeks ago, the workers invited NRZ board chairman Alvord Mabhena who, besides struggling to calm down the situation, was slapped with a five-page petition detailing the deepening crisis bedevilling the once powerful parastatal.

The petition, also copied to minister Mpofu and Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko, was signed by the workers’ representative unions which include the Railways Association for Enginemen (Rae), Railways Artisans Union (Rau), Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railways Workers Union (Zarwu) and Railways Association of Yard Operating Staff (Rayos).

With executives at the ailing parastatal having fallen short of putting the workers’ plight and grievances to rest, the employees have shifted their attention to minister Mpofu for redress.

“Whereas unions agreed to use the two-hour demonstrations every day, our initial plan was just to have it run for four days only,” said Rau acting secretary-general Farai Dambudzo.

“But we are really shocked at the way the workers have reacted to the whole issue as they have maintained the programme and vowed not to abandon the ‘struggle’ until the Transport minister addresses them,” he said.

When the Daily News arrived at the NRZ main station yesterday, more than 400 workers were milling around in groups waiting to be addressed by their union leaders.

Dambudzo said: “The reaction by the workers only serves to speak about the hard times they are going through.

“As it is, schools are opening today and the ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level examinations fee deadline is on Friday.

“This is what seems to be causing all this expression of anger and desperation we are witnessing here.”

He said as union leaders, they assessed the situation and called for an emergency meeting today (Tuesday) in a bid to review the industrial action.

The reaction by the workers comes a few months after minister Mpofu indicated that government was close to sealing a $450 million loan from the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) as part of efforts to revive the parastatal.

Thus far, the pledge has remained a pie in the sky as the company continues to struggle with its operations as well as paying its workers. It has accumulated an 11-month salary arrears backlog.

Through the petition, the workers have accused management of lacking capacity to manage the organisation as proved by their reluctance to resolve the current raging salary saga, the failure to implement measures to protect employees’ tenure, skewed human resources policies and an unnecessary top heavy management structure.

According to Dambudzo, workers are still to get any response from Mabhena.

Comments (6)

The problem with the companies top management is that they are hiding with a finger and this costing this country and employees at risk.

Zimbabwean - 5 May 2015

The nice trains left by ID Smith are now past their age! Ko Mugabe wakambotiitireiwo kunze kwekuba nekuponda?

Beans - 5 May 2015

"When my people...leave their evil ways and pray to me .....I will heal their land" says the Lord. Our beloved country needs healing. Where is the prophet who will lead the way?

abri - 5 May 2015

I thought these guys won an award at the just ended zitf and they were cool ha ha ha - 6 May 2015

Dream on Obert is busy with his businesses and looting some human rights organisation needs to represent the people

_ - 8 May 2015

You know ehy our parastatals are in jamboree?Blame it on sanctions but some of us knows that sanctions are imaginery allegations.What destroys our parastatals and State Enterprises is the appointment of unskilled top management.Merely because they are retired army personnel .NRZ,ZISCO,GMB just an example

mukono - 8 May 2015

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