ZIMBABWE United Passengers Company (Zupco) chief executive officer, Zion Muwoni yesterday claimed that former workers snubbed several meetings called by management in Harare to discuss their outstanding salary and pension issues.
BY SILAS NKALA
His remarks came as scores of former workers picketed the parastatal’s Bulawayo Khami depot since Monday demanding their dues.
The placard-waving ex-workers were, however, blocked from entering the company premises with management allegedly refusing to address them.
Muwoni confirmed receiving a report of former workers demonstrating at the Bulawayo depot and admitted that the company, together with Fidelity Life Pension Fund, owes the ex-employees.
“Yes, I know them. They are pensioners at Zupco, who are protesting over their pensions,” he said.
“We know that they have not been paid their pensions and it is the responsibility of Zupco and Fidelity Life Pension Fund to come together and resolve their issue. They never requested me to address them. I could have gone to Bulawayo to address them.”
Muwoni said the former southern division workers were to blame for the state of affairs, because they had been called for meetings in Harare, together with their northern division counterparts on their pay outs, but they reportedly snubbed the invite.
“We called them several times and they refused. Now they demonstrate over the same issue. I wonder what they want to achieve,” he said.
“There was a commission of inquiry appointed by President Robert Mugabe to look into the pensions issue and after it did its work, we called these former workers and they refused.”
Muwoni further accused the protesting ex-workers of bulldozing their way into the company’s premises on Tuesday night in breach of the terms of a police clearance letter they had.
“We reported them to the police and they were arrested. They have just unnecessarily put themselves into trouble,” he said.
But the ex-workers accused Muwoni of lying about their reasons for boycotting the meetings. They also accused their boss of avoiding them each time their demanded audience with him.
The former workers said they refused to take part in the negotiations in Harare after management only invited workers’ committee chairperson, Lucas Munyika for the talks.
“The board of trustees regulations are clear that we were supposed to send a few representatives from southern division, who would participate in the voting and Zupco management only called Munyika, which we viewed as a strategy to drown our grievances, as Munyika would be outvoted by colleagues in the northern region,” an ex-worker, who declined to be named, said.
Munyika and other former workers were still detained at Mzilikazi Police Station at the time of going to print last night, although they were yet to be formally charged for storming Zupco’s premises.
Acting provincial police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Abednicho Ncube said he was yet to be briefed on the arrests.