Chinhoyi council mortgages land to pay workers

THREATS by Chinhoyi council workers to picket Town House over unpaid salaries have forced the local authority to accede to employees’ demands to be allocated housing stands in lieu of salary arrears backdating to 2009.

BY JAMES MUONWA

In a hard-hitting letter by the workers’ committee, addressed to town clerk Maxwell Kaitano, it was alleged management was slow to resolve the issue of unpaid salaries and payment of dues from a 2009 arbitral award, while directors embarked on numerous “useless” business trips to justify claiming travel and subsistence allowances.
Workers also accused management of paying themselves current salaries and ignoring their subordinates’ financial plight.

Read part of the letter seen by NewsDay yesterday: “Some of the managers are alleged to have been paid their salaries, while junior employees are in several months’ salary arrears.

“Managers are assumed to be claiming fuel allowances for use of own vehicles. Junior employees aren’t being paid, but you (management) carry on (sic) unlimited trips in intervals and alternating characters weekly, while workers grieve in poverty.”

The workers further alleged senior council bosses had parcelled out plots to themselves to offset salary backlogs. This, workers stated, followed a ministerial directive to cut top managers’ salaries.

The workers’ committee lamented the continued exposure of toilet and street cleaners to health hazards as council was failing to provide them with protective clothing, such as gumboot shoes, gloves and respirators.

The notice to strike reportedly shook council to the core, resulting in Kaitano recently calling for an urgent special council meeting, chaired by mayor Dyke Makumbi, to discuss workers’ grievances, where the town boss shot down some of the allegations levelled against his administration.

According to minutes of the heated meeting, council resolved to give workers residential stands at a cost of $6/square metre. The workers, who currently have a six-month pay backlog, have been allocated different stand sizes, each according to how much they were owed by the beleaguered local authority.

Some employees, who were owed huge sums, got four stands each, which they are already selling on the open market for as much as US$6 000 each.

The identified land in St Ives was repossessed from a developer, Halopact, which had reportedly reneged on its contractual obligations.

Meanwhile, Chinhoyi council intends to repossess at least 60 residential stands in Mapako low-density suburb, which are at different stages of development, following the owners’ failure to service estate accounts.

Stand owners have up to June 24 to regularise their statuses with council or risk losing title to the land.
The exercise will be extended to other areas to flush out errant stand owners.

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