YESTERDAY we carried a report on the strike by almost 100 City of Harare workers who are protesting over the non-payment of their salaries for several months.
It is sad that the situation has been allowed to get to this point.
Service delivery in the capital has over the years plummeted to an all-time low, and the strike by the city’s workers is only set to exacerbate the problem.
The striking workers, we are told, were later removed by riot police.
Regrettably the city management chose to convey the supposed good news to the workers through a police officer that their salaries would be deposited into their accounts later yesterday. It must be pointed out that it cannot be bad than that especially if management can choose not to address issues at the heart of the shop floor workers.
It is our hope that this was not just a ruse to get the workers away from the offices where they were staging their demonstration because the bottom line is the city employees have to be paid the money they are owed.
It goes without saying that the council employees have always been sacrificed at the expense of politically inclined senior management who have been enjoying the fruits of workers’ sweat without also remunerating them. Besides, service delivery in the city of government is pathetic, yet residents continue to pay their rates.
It is cruel to let workers continue to provide their labour for six months without paying them anything. The city has to take advantage of its various facilities, some of which are being under-utilised, to raise money rather than just rely on struggling residents.
This is a problem that has to be confronted head-on, not only in Harare, but in all municipalities around the country. We understand that massive demonstrations in the country’s local authorities are looming, with those in Gweru having already engaged in protests likely to cripple urban centres as angry workers protest over non-payment of salaries.
Chitungwiza workers have also gone for several months without salaries while Mutare was also reportedly facing similar challenges.
The saddest thing about what’s happening in Harare is that council management can afford to spend big on expensive vehicles and pocket thousands of dollars in allowances while the workforce goes for so long without a penny. They have to be realistic.
Discussions will not bring food on the table. Discussions are a waste of time when the local authority clearly has its priorities misplaced, pocketing huge perks while seeking to appease the abused workforce through dialogues that will not bring solution.
We believe it is important for public entities to prioritise the welfare of their employees.