NRZ, artisans in wages row

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Artisans at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) have confronted the parastatal’s management demanding payment of their outstanding salaries for February and March.

The employees told NewsDay yesterday they were taken aback after management allegedly told them the company would only pay them salaries for March.

“We want our money for the last two months since our department has not been paid. Other employees have been paid and we are still owed our February and March salaries.

“They are telling us that we will get March salaries only. We are saying why March payment when they still owe us February salaries. We suspect they want to cheat us,” said one employee who asked to remain anonymous.

The artisans fall under Grade C3, one of the highly paid grades at the parastatal.

Railway Artisans’ Union (Rau) president Shadreck Mutakura confirmed the standoff saying the problem of delayed salaries had become perennial at NRZ.

NRZ spokesperson Fanuel Masikati said: “Since you remember that we said we are staggering payment of salaries, we are still working on the February salaries which we hope to finish paying end of this week and we will start paying the March salaries.”

He dismissed as untrue reports that the NRZ wanted to start by paying March salaries ahead of February payments.

“We are finishing the high grades for February salaries and will start for the month of March soon,” he said.

Masikati said like any other company, NRZ had not been spared the economic and financial problems prevailing in the country.

Recently, the National Social Security Authority (Nssa) condemned infrastructure and equipment being used by NRZ as unsafe and recommended that the parastatal be closed unless measures were taken to improve the situation.

The Nssa report followed complaints by NRZ workers that they were being subjected to unsafe working conditions and dilapidated machinery.

The workers alleged that some of the locomotives had no speedometers, vigilance units, doors and window seals, handbrakes, sanders, fire extinguishers and snubbers.

The workers also cited poor radio communicators, non-working window wipers and scratched windscreens in locomotives which made visibility impossible.