Speaking to Radio VOP, Kudakwashe Munengiwa Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Urban Council Worker’s Union (ZUCWU) said workers had resolved to strike as negotiations had failed to yield results.
“It is unfortunate that the negotiations that we were engaged in with council for the past eight months has yielded nothing and as a result we had a general members’ meeting to update our members who then resolved that we resort to a collective job action”, Munengiwa said explaining that workers were angry with council for refusing to listen to them.
However Munengiwa said as a union they are applying to the labour court so that their strike is legalised. “In order to protect the workers we are going to apply for the strike so that it is procedural,” he explained.
Winfielda Munovapei, a council worker who is also the trustee of ZUCWU said it was unfortunate that council was not being responsive to the needs of the workers. “It’s a shame that even on pay days, you will find council workers at Yambukai, (a money lending company in Gweru) borrowing money to take them through the month,” she said.
A visit to the money lending firm, Yambukai that has very high interest rates on Friday the day most council workers were getting their salaries revealed a number of council employees with their City of Gweru uniforms were at the firm.
Chipo Ndakaitei a council worker who spoke to Vop said she was getting US$230 dollars before deductions. “After deductions I take home less than US$170 which is just peanuts compared to the responsibilities that I have. We will withdraw our labour as council has failed to hear our pleas,” she said dejected.
According to council officials, they are arguing council can not effect pay increments as they had received a directive from the Minister of Local Government , Rural and Urban Development that salaries and allowances should not be increased.
According to part of the letter from the Ministry which is in possession of Radio Vop, Chombo wrote that Cabinet had resolved that, “No local Authority may award a salary increase or increase any allowance or create any new allowance or perk without the written permission of the Minister. Further no councilor’s allowances may be increased and no new allowances for councilors maybe introduced without the written permission of the Minister”.
According to council statistics, the budgeted salaries and wages provision for 2011 was USD 7 O52 O5O which is said to constitute 32.12 % of the total current expenditure of USD 21 954 460 and this is against the Minister of Local Government’s policy of a 30:70 employment costs to service delivery.