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Municipal workers in showdown over wages

A SHOWDOWN is looming between council officials and the Harare Municipal Workers Union over salary negotiations, with the union demanding a minimum wage of $6,1 million for its members.



Helvetica, sans-serif”>Negotiations have reached a deadlock with the cash-short local authority arguing that it cannot afford the increase demanded while the union says its workers are failing to make ends meet owing to escalating costs of basic commodities and increases in transport fares.


“We are deadlocked but we hope the stalemate will not force workers to go on strike and inconvenience ratepayers,” chairman of the union, Cosmas Bungu, said on Wednesday.


Municipal work is considered an essential service and employees are barred from work boycotts.


Bungu said a number of municipal workers were losing their household property to money lenders due to low salaries in the midst of escalating costs for basic commodities and food.


“People are hungry and have to borrow to make ends meet. They become so indebted after borrowing for food, school fees and bus fares that money lenders haunt them everyday,” the union chief said.


He said his union had agreed with the employer to take the matter up with the arbitration centre for a determination. The meeting is scheduled for Monday.


The showdown between Harare city council and municipal workers comes at a time when the commission running the city is looking for US$27 000 ($702 million) for a trip by commission chair, Sekesai Makwavarara, to Moscow.


Makwavarara’s costly junket is planned when the city has almost run dry of fuel for trucks to remove mounting garbage from the streets. Council cannot attend to burst water pipes. Neither can it provide adequate water supplies to residents forcing some suburbs to forego water supplies for weeks

Movement for Democratic Change MP for Harare North, Trudy Stevenson, advised the mayor of Moscow, Juri Michailowitsch Luschkow, not to entertain Makwavarara saying her delegation does not have the mandate of the city residents. – Staff Writer.

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