Management and train drivers at the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) last Friday reportedly failed to resolve their tiff over poor working conditions that have seen workers embarking on a week-long go-slow.
The crisis meeting was allegedly held at the parastatal’s headquarters in Bulawayo.
Both Railways Association of Enginemen (RAE) president Norman Simba and NRZ spokesperson Fanuel Masikati confirmed the meeting, but gave conflicting reports over its outcome.
Said Simba: “We held a meeting with management last week on Friday on the issue of our working conditions, but there was no conclusion as we failed to reach an agreement. The management said the company did not have the resources to rehabilitate dilapidated locomotives.”
Simba said a strike was therefore imminent following the stand-off.
“We are not going to sacrifice our lives because the company has no resources,” he said.
“Therefore whatever happens, we would have been forced by the situation on the ground. If it means us going on strike, then so be it.”
But, Masikati sang from a different hymn book, claiming: “We had amicable discussions with RAE on issues of health and safety and we have put timelines on some of the issues.
“We will continue to engage the workers on issues affecting them as we believe that issues of health and safety are important.”
NRZ train drivers last week went on a go-slow following the parastatal’s failure to rehabilitate its dilapidated locomotives.
The locomotives were condemned as a health hazard after a spot audit by the National Social Security Authority in April.
Section 104 subsection (4) of the Labour Act allows for employees to withdraw their labour on short notice if their health and safety conditions are compromised.