ABOUT 260 Victoria Falls Town Council workers yesterday downed tools and spent the whole day demonstrating outside the municipal offices in the town centre demanding their overdue salaries.
The municipality and its workers are deadlocked over the local authority’s non-payment of salaries from August 2013 in violation of a September court order that council pays workers all outstanding dues before June 30.
Victoria Falls council workers’ committee chairperson Mendelson Moyo bemoaned their treatment by the municipality saying it contributed to serious suffering at homes.
“We are now failing to pay school fees on time and our families face malnutrition and eviction threats while the union is failing to run its affairs because members are not remitting,” Moyo said.
“What’s saddening the most is that managers stay in council houses, use council cars and get their pay on time and they earn a lot compared to some of us who get less than $300.
“Each time we try to express our grievances, chamber of secretary Philip Ndlovu always tells us to go back to school and learn if we want to attain higher positions and be recognised.
“What stirred the strike is that we embarked on projects to raise money for staff, but the managers took all the money to compensate their December bonuses and left us stranded again.”
A council engineer said the pay issue had become unbearable.
“We went to court last year and council was ordered to settle all arrears before June 30, including pension policies, funeral policies and medical aid. I started working here 20 years ago, but there are no benefits. Recently, council sold land to Econet and got $500 000 and promised to pay us using that money, but they diverted it to pay only top managers,” the engineer said.
He said during preparations for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in Victoria Falls co-hosted by Zimbabwe and Zambia in August 2013, council paid them $500 each, but deducted the money from their salaries claiming it was an advance payment.
A council nurse from Chinotimba Clinic said they were prepared to strike until salary arrears were settled.
“We are not going to work until they pay us. As I speak, all clinics are closed, but people need treatment,” she said.
Victoria Falls mayor Sifiso Mpofu (pictured) said he could not comment as he was out of town. Town clerk Christopher Mpofu urged workers to return to work promising that all outstanding arrears would be cleared on Friday.