Struggling National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is losing $250 000 a day and has lost over $14 million overall as its workers continue their strike over unpaid wages, the parastatal chairman Larry Mavima said today.
Workers, who downed tools on March 29 after going unpaid for 15 months, 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.
“A day we are making more than $250 000 losses due to the strike. We have asked the workers to bear with us because as long as we are not moving trains, we do not make money. The government is failing to meet its costs and it shows how difficult things are,” Mavima said.
Mavima said government has given the NRZ an opportunity to move grain, but workers remain on strike.
He said that it was hard to engage with workers as their unions were dysfunctional.
“They have disowned their unions and this has made the situation difficult to deal with,” he said.
The strike by the 4 000 NRZ workers has halted operations at the company, causing delays in the transportation of imported wheat and maize for drought relief. The parastatal is 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.
Responding to a question in Parliament recently, the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Joram Gumbo said the company was in talks with the finance ministry to float treasury bills to raise funds to pay off the workers.
A report by the Auditor General for NRZ’s 2014 accounts showed that its freight unit was generating annual revenue of $91.2 million, but incurring costs of $103 million. The passenger unit had annual revenues of $3.2 million, with costs over three times more at $10.9 million.-The Source