Council management misleading the nation

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Harare City Council

Harare Municipal Workers’ Union (HMWU) has disputed claims by council management that the local authority had almost cleared employee’s salary arrears running into several months.

BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA

HMWU chairperson Cosmas Bungu yesterday said workers were increasingly getting agitated.

“They are saying they are almost up to date. Treasury was quoted in the media this week saying they are almost paid up, but the truth is that they have just paid up to grade 11 February salaries,” Bungu said.

“It is now causing agitation among the workers. They are incensed because management is treating the issues as child’s play and that is wrong.”

Council has been battling to pay workers’ salaries and had an arrears’ obligation from as far back as five months for workers in grades five to 16.

Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni recently said workers’ demands for once-off payments of the arrears would cripple operations.

Bungu said council had declared that they were getting in excess of $23 million per month which was enough to settle the arrears.

“Town House has to be serious about this because this is about livelihoods. When the council workers are on strike, lives of those in hospitals are at risk as no one will be attending to them, even those in the intensive care unit,” he said.

“Those people at Town House were elected to represent the same ratepayers who suffer when workers strike. Why are they failing to pay when they are declaring a surplus of $23 million?”

Bungu said their industrial action, which was initially pencilled in for last Thursday, would go ahead as soon as the Labour ministry approved it.

“We are going to appear before the Labour ministry and tell them that we cannot let the management mess with our lives. Our strike is a genuine issue because council has the money,” he said.

Council spokesperson Michael Chideme said council was indeed behind in paying the outstanding salaries.

“We have paid up to grade 11 for February. We are now paying the remaining grades starting this week,” he said.