PUBLIC Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Nicholas Goche yesterday ordered striking Gwanda municipal workers to return to work immediately while an arbitrator looks into their grievances.
Workers had embarked on an indefinite strike on Wednesday protesting the local authority’s failure to pay them outstanding salaries for the past five months.
However, council wrote to Goche asking him to urgently intervene to stop the strike by issuing a show cause order against the workers.
Matabeleland South principal labour officer Isaac Mwale addressed the striking workers yesterday and told them that Goche had ordered the employees to suspend the strike.
Mwale said Goche had not granted a show cause order, but issued a directive.
“We have received communication from the minister that we order you to return to work at 12.30pm.
A labour officer will be appointed to look into your grievances and we will be meeting with your representatives as from Monday. It is your right that you be paid your outstanding salaries,” he said.
“We are not saying the strike is illegal as you followed proper procedures, but because you provide essential services, it is prudent that you go back to work while a solution is being sought.”
The order to go back to work was met with disgruntlement by the striking workers.
The council’s workers committee chairperson Sipho Ndlovu urged workers to follow the legal route and wait for a decision from the Labour ministry.
“We are calling off the strike and we will be meeting on Monday to find a solution to the problem. As for now, please return to work,” Ndlovu said.
Acting Gwanda town clerk Priscilla Nkala has indicated that council could not clear the workers’ outstanding salaries because the municipality is in distress and was facing viability challenges due to liquidity constraints.