NATIONAL Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) employees have asked to be addressed by First Lady Grace Mugabe, where they say they want to pass a vote of no confidence on Transport minister Obert Mpofu.
The workers, who are still waiting for their March salaries, were particularly riled by a decision by the parastatal’s decision to pay them half their bonuses, with the remainder to be paid next April.
Mpofu, the workers said, is indifferent to their plight, with the minister once saying he was unaware that workers went for several months without pay.
The workers temporarily downed tools on Tuesday, demanding they be paid their full bonuses.
An employee who spoke on condition of anonymity said employees were not receiving their full bonuses and salaries, yet management was fully paid.
“What is saddening the most is that these people create debts knowing that they get their full salaries while we suffer,” he said.
“We are crying for our bonus because our children are suffering at home and we cannot feed or send them to school.”
Workers were told NRZ was unable to pay their outstanding March salaries and would only pay half of the bonuses.
Another worker said the parastatal had turned them into destitutes.
“At times if our salaries are cut and we end up getting $75, particularly the lowest paid,” he said.
In response, NRZ public relations manager Fanuel Masikati said the parastatal understood the workers’ concern, but it was unable to pay.
“While the NRZ is sensitive and sympathetic to the plight of its employees, the organisation, however, is incapacitated to meet the payment of bonuses in full during the month of December 2014,” he said in response to written questions.
“The offer to split the bonus payment was communicated to all employees countrywide after having considered the current cashflow challenges facing the NRZ which are also affecting other organisations due to the depressed macroeconomic environment which is prevailing in the country and has resulted in many companies failing to meet their financial obligations, including NRZ.”
Masikati said NRZ was doing everything possible within its means to address the plight of workers, adding that allegations of management were untrue.
Efforts to get a comment from Mpofu were fruitless.