Negotiations between the Bulawayo City Council and its striking workers were deadlocked yesterday as grave diggers joined the job boycott over unpaid salaries.
Council workers downed tools on Monday demanding to be paid outstanding salaries for the past three months. Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers’ Union (ZUCWU) secretary-general Moses Mahlangu yesterday said a meeting with council management the previous day over the strike had failed to resolve the dispute.
“We are continuing with this action until they give us an offer we can accept,” he said.
“Yesterday they did not give us an answer to our demands. They just told us that they did not have money and would not be able to pay us.”
Mahlangu dismissed council’s accusations that the workers were out to embarrass the city by going on strike during the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF).
The 53rd edition of the ZITF opened yesterday and will be officially opened by Zambian President Michael Sata on Friday.
“Workers are not the ones that are embarrassing the city at this Trade Fair time,” Mahlangu said.
“They are the ones who are embarrassing the city by failing to deal with this issue (unpaid salaries). Workers are losing their accomodation because they can’t pay rent and can’t buy clothes for their children. ”
The strike has affected service delivery with council clinics being forced to close down.
Bereaved families were also inconvenienced as grave diggers had downed tools.
Deputy mayor Amen Mpofu apologised to residents over the strike by the grave diggers.
“As you can see, there are no council workers digging graves today,” he said.
“This is because we have failed to pay our workers and they have decided to take this form of action. I would like to apologise on behalf of city council for this strike that has affected service delivery in the city yesterday (Monday) and today (Tuesday).”
BPRA co-ordinator Rodrick Fayayo said it was sad to note that: “This morning, clinics and other service delivery areas such as refuse collection were in limbo as the city fathers met with employees to discuss a way forward.
“It is BPRA’s contention that a strike by council employees will negatively affect the residents of Bulawayo, hence the association calls for an amicable solution to be reached as soon as possible.
“It is the residents who will face the brunt of a strike through uncollected refuse, lack of attendance to burst sewers and leaking pipes, lack of services at city council clinics and so forth.”
lComment on this story: