GWERU City Council and its employees are headed for a showdown after workers’ representatives this week began consulting their membership to brace for a “massive” strike over poor salaries and working conditions, The NewsHawks can report.
The least-paid worker at the local authority earns a basic pay of ZW$4 500 with the employees demanding at least a poverty datum line-pegged wage.
According to the Zimbabwe Urban Council Workers’ Union (ZUCWU) Gweru branch secretary, workers began voting to embark on industrial action this Monday with the process expected to end early next week.
“We have started the process of engaging workers and they are voting early in the morning and during lunch whether they are in favour of downing tools,” he said.
“We hope the process ends early next week but so far the votes count indicate an overwhelming support for engaging in a strike. Workers are not happy that efforts to engage the employer have for a long time failed to yield the desired results.”
Hwande said a works council meeting held on Tuesday ended in a stalemate with the employer offering “meagre salary increments.”
He said council proposed an increase of ZW$2 000 for the lowest graded worker, currently earning a basic salary of ZW$4 500.
But mayor Josiah Makombe said although deliberations in the works council became binding through a resolution, the local authority’s doors were open for negotiations.
“Whatever is discussed in in the works council is not final until council approves it,” he said.
“We are however concerned with the welfare of our workers and our doors are always open for engagement. However, we have to balance between service delivery and meeting salary increments, but that however depends on the revenue we collect.”
Commenting on the salary clashes at council, ZUCWU national general secretary Kudakwashe Munengiwa said the offer by the city fathers pointed to inevitable industrial action.
He said there was no way workers were going to “entertain” an adjustment of earnings below the poverty datum line (PDL).
“We have heard the inconclusive salary negotiations at Gweru council and obviously the situation on the ground points to an inevitable strike,” Munengiwa said.
“Any offer below the PDL, which is now well above ZW$20 000, is an insult to workers and cannot be entertained.”
He said after finishing consulting workers early next week, the process of preparing for a “full-blown strike” would begin.