Workers at struggling National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) have downed tools in protest at going for nine months without salaries, but officials say there is no money to pay them.
The workers and representatives from the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railway Workers Union (ZARWU) sat outside at the company’s provincial offices demanding to be addressed by management.
They said the parastatal has been paying them 20 percent of their salaries, between $40 and $80 per month, depending on their grades.
Andrew Bakasa, who heads the NRZ’s eastern region operations, refused to address the workers, referring them to the head office in Bulawayo.
NRZ public relations manager, Fanuel Masikati, said that the company has been facing challenges in paying its workers but said the current challenges were beyond their control.
“Like any other company now, we have challenges with salaries especially at the beginning of the year and also the fact that companies that we work with have not yet opened,” Masikati said.
“Generally, business is slow during the beginning of the year coupled by the current economic environment. All these factors affect us in settling salaries.”
The stricken parastatal is currently transporting six million tonnes of goods per annum, out of 80 million tonnes the system was designed for, due to a depressed market and reduced capacity.
In 2013, it moved 3.6 million tonnes of goods against a target of 6 million tonnes. Comparatively, in 1998, the NRZ moved 18 million tonnes.
It is saddled with a $144 million debt raked up since dollarisation in 2009 and registered a $17 million deficit in the first five months of 2014, generating $44 million revenue against $61 million expenditure.
Government has said it was negotiating with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) for a loan of up to $700 million to fund NRZ’s rehabilitation.- The Source