Gweru council workers down tools

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GWERU City Council workers have threatened a full-blown strike today after the local authority failed to honour its pledge to settle back pay and bonus arrears by last Friday.

BY STEPHEN CHADENGA

The workers have been staging tea break protests for the past three weeks demanding payment of their outstanding salaries and bonuses.

Workers’ committee spokesperson, Cornelia Selipiwe yesterday told workers that management had failed to honour its pledge to clear the arrears.

He said workers were left with no option but to down tools.

“We had hoped that our back pays would be paid last Friday but it seems the employer is not taking us seriously,” Selipiwe said.

“This means that as previously planned tomorrow (today) workers will go ahead with the industrial action to pressure the employer to address our grievances.”

Workers were paid their December 2014 salaries this month but are still to get back pay for April to July 2014 as well as bonuses for last year.

“We have been warning city fathers that we would go on strike on the 28th so they should not get surprised,” Selipiwe said.

Town clerk, Daniel Matawu was not available for comment on his mobile.

The MDC-T led council has been struggling to meet salary obligations and blames declining revenue for its predicament.

The majority of the country’s local authorities are struggling financially after the government in 2013 ordered them to write off bills that accumulated since 2009.

A sizeable number of ratepayers are failing to pay bills due to high unemployment.

On the other hand government departments take too long to pay their rates bills, causing most local authorities to incur salary arrears.

Meanwhile, the Gweru City Council plans to auction old vehicles as well as other obsolete equipment in a bid to raise revenue.

According to minutes of recent council meetings, the items include cars, tractors, excavators, stoves and fridges as well as office equipment.

Items from the engineering department particularly vehicles, trailers pneumatic rollers and air compressors would be auctioned for $74 950.

Most of the items including computers, chairs, pipes, printers, desks and water pumps were indicated as non-runners or unserviceable on the service ability status.

Council recommended that the equipment be disposed and that an auctioneer be engaged.

“In light of the obsolete items it was recommended that they (items) be disposed and that an auctioneer be engaged to determine auction price for the items,” read part of the minutes.

Last year a councillor revealed that old pumps were worsening the city’s water problems.

“Our dams might be full, but pumping is a problem. We have obsolete pumps, some of which have been in use for more than 30 years,” ward 4 councillor Kenneth Sithole said at the time.

“At Gwenoro, we have three pumps, but one pump operates at a time.

“But if we can have all the three pumps operating, water can be accessed by all parts of the city.”