The pilots downed tools on Friday morning and told management that they will not return to work unless they get their salaries and agreed payments of allowances they did with the Minister of Transport Nicholas Goche.
Sources from Air Zimbabwe told Radio VOP that the pilots had resorted to the industrial action to demand payment of their outstanding salaries and allowances, which haven’t been paid since March this year despite promises by management which undertook to clear the outstanding payments.
“The airline owes us a lot. After going for more than four months without a salary we have just decided to down our tools. They haven’t fulfilled their pledge to pay us in full. So this is the only language that they can understand,” said a source.
The strike action resulted in the cancellation of the few remaining international flights owing to a series of job actions and a depleted fleet.
Air Zimbabwe acting chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga yesterday confirmed that they have been struggling to pay their workers salaries lately.
“Certainly we have had some challenges with regards late payment of salaries of all our staff members and this morning we had of the job action from our pilots. We have managed to secure some funding to a part payment of the outstanding salaries,” said Mavhunga declining to give of the percentage to the part payment.
He added he was very hopeful that the pilots will call off the strike and return to work and get the troubled AirZimbabwe back to the air.
“As I speak to you right now the pilots are in their own meeting and are hoping to get them back at work. Obviously we had to rush to our stakeholders for them to provide the much needed financial support,” said Mavhunga in reference to the government.
Sources said the part payment that the management had offered was the salary for one month only leaving a three month outstanding salaries.
Efforts to get the pilots’ reaction to the management offer were futile by the time of writing this report but sources said the pilots had turned down the offer.
The pilots’ last strike was in March this year over the issue of salaries. Zimbabwe’s national airline has been plagued with gross mismanagement, corruption and a lack of resources. Many experienced pilots have left seeking better opportunities elsewhere.