TAZARA workers in US$2.4 million salary arrears

As the TAZARA strike enters day 7, it has been revealed that workers are owed a whopping US$ 2.4m.

Crews and Allied Workers Union of Zambia president Davies Silumbwe told the Daily Nation that both government and management had remained silent on the matter.

Early this month, the TAZARA council of ministers agreed to inject USD80.00 million into the operations of TAZARA in the next 12 months, of which USD9.20 million was to be disbursed immediately to cater for two months of the outstanding employees’ salary arrears and some working capital.

At a meeting held in Lusaka on Friday July 4, the TAZARA Council of Ministers, which is the highest policy organ of TAZARA resolved to inject funds in the Authority following months of low productivity and operational disruptions due to various factors including frequent breakdowns, accidents, unstable labour atmosphere and lack of working capital to pay salaries and procure fuels and lubricants for the trains, all resulting in recurrent work stoppages.

But Mr Silumbwe said since the July 4thmeeting, there had been no communication from management on the way forward for the institution.

He said that TAZARA workers from the Tanzanian region had been paid their March and April salaries while on the Zambian region nothing had been done.

He said business was completely on a stand still on both regions and wondered why government had taken long to intervene even after Transport MinisterYamfya Mukanga said that the Zambian government was seriously committed by heavily investing resources in the railway company.

The union leader said more effort was needed in order to find a lasting solution to the problems being faced by the institution stating that there was need to overhaul management.

“Even if all arrears were paid today, the institution will still be facing the same problems as before. As workers we feel the Zambian region should separate totally from the Tanzanian region so that both regions can become independent from each other. All workers are longing for this and it is the best solution for the Zambian workers.

“Management knows that there is a lot of frustration from the workers on the other side and it would only be profitable if both regions went on their own before the company is completely run down. Government must be told the truth and as workers we are ready to work from Kapirimposhi to Nakonde and let the other region pick up from there. As it is now we are not resuming work until all our arrears have been paid,” Mr Silumbe said.

The TAZARA board which sat on 2nd July 2014 before the council meeting chaired by Dr. Mwinjaka, had resolved to submit a request for the two governments to recapitalise TAZARA sufficiently and also provide working capital in order to save the company from further deterioration.

It resolved to make substantive changes in the manner TAZARA was being run and that these changes were expected to be announced and take effect within the next month when the Board would meet again to review the implementation plan that the Management was currently working on.