ABOUT 60 employees at a privately-owned emergency health service provider, Medical Air Rescue Services (MARS), staged a sit-in at the firm’s Harare branch yesterday and handed in a petition demanding the immediate resignation of the company’s judicial manager, Christopher Maswi.
The workers accused Maswi, who was appointed MARS judicial manager in February this year, of siphoning money from the company’s coffers and failing to settle over $1,5 million in salary arrears.
Only a skeletal staff of six people remained on standby reportedly to deal with emergency cases.
The overall impact of the industrial action could, however, not be established by end of day yesterday. Of late, residents have resorted to private ambulances as the Harare City Council’s ambulance fleet has been reduced to only four. MARS runs five state-of-the-art ambulances in Harare.
The petition, which was signed by 117 MARS workers from its branches across the country, was also copied to the Master of the High Court.
Part of the petition reads: “We, the undersigned employees of Medical Air Rescue Services (MARS), having toiled and sacrificed a lot to save our company from collapsing and having noted with concern your helplessness in salvaging our beloved company, do hereby declare our vote of no confidence in you in your capacity as MARS judicial manager together with your team of managers.
“Of late, your priorities have shown that you are not committed to taking the company away from the crust you found it in nor do you have employees at your heart yet it is us who generate the little money the company is getting which you and your team are scampering for in the form of fees,” reads the petition.
The workers claimed that up until February when the company was placed under judicial management, they were owed $1,2 million in outstanding salaries and had been receiving half salaries per month ever since.
“Workers here earn between $350 and $1 200 which is nothing much. However, since he (Maswi) came over, despite good business we have started to realise, he is paying us half those salaries which is why we want him out,” Aiden Katapa, chairperson of MARS workers’ committee, said.
Later in the day, Maswi, who could not be reached for comment, was said to have met workers’ representatives and indicated that he was prepared to leave if the High Court ordered him to do so.