The wives of National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers in Bulawayo on Tuesday staged a demonstration against the parastatal’s management demanding outstanding salaries and allowances for their husbands.
The demonstrators, gathered at the Bulawayo NRZ main train station but later dispersed by anti-riot police, said the parastatal has not been paying its workers for the past eight months.
“Eight months is a long period without salaries. My husband is the bread winner but he is struggling to support the family because they have not received their dues and we are tired of the empty promises by the management,” said Nomusa Sithole a demonstrator.
She further said they are also failing to pay their monthly rentals and school fees for their two children.
NRZ spokesperson Fanuel Masikati refused to comment on the matter saying the parastatal does not have contractual obligations with wives of the workers.
Masikati said: “We can not comment on anything about wives. In this case I don’t think I can give you a comment because they are not our employees but just wives of our employees.”
He said if workers have grievances there are proper channels to be followed in engaging the management.
Another aggrieved wife Loreta Nare threatened that if their concerns are not met with expediency they will dumb their children at NRZ general manager Retired Mike Karakadzai’s house.
“Very soon we will go to his (Karakadzai) and leave him with our children,” said Nare.
She said they have suffered enough and urged the parastatal’s management to clear the salaries.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai sucked in
Meanwhile, the salary row pitting the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and its employees has taken yet another turn, as workers’ unions are now seeking audience with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
The Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railways Association (Zaru) general secretary Mr Gideon Shoko said they recently approached PM Tsvangirai in a bid to resolve the long-standing salary dispute.
He said they first lodged an appeal to the responsible ministry, the Transport, Communication and Infrastructure Development headed by Nicholas Goche, but to no avail.
“This issue of salaries is long overdue so we had to seek the PM’s intervention,” said Shoko.
He said PM Tsvangirai promised them that he would organise meeting with Goche, State Enterprises and Parastatals Minister Goche and Labour and Social Welfare Minister Paurina Mupariwa to unearth the root cause of the impasse.
The meeting would also be aimed at discussing and proposing strategies to resolve the impasse.
“After the three ministries have met, PM Tsvangirai will then arrange a round table meeting between NRZ workers’ unions and the three ministries and map the way forward.
“We are not very happy not only because of salaries, but also the conditions of service that has not been addressed in as many years,” said Mr Shoko.