State fails to pay Tazara workers

As the TAZARA workers’ strike entered day 16 yesterday, Government has still not remitted the money it promised last week to pay salary arrears standing at US$2.4 million.

And TAZARA Head of Public relations Conrad Simuchile said yesterday that management was still waiting for the two governments, Tanzania and Zambia to empower the Transport firm with recapitalization and working capital in order to stabilize the situation and make it become self-sustaining in the long run.

Crews and Allied Workers Union of Zambia president Bevies Silumbe told the Daily Nation from Kapiri Mposhi that no worker had received payment of their arrears after an assurance by Transport minister Yamfya Mukanga that they were to be paid by Friday last week.

Mr Silumbe said government had not yet deposited the money into the TAZARA account despite assurances from both the State and management that they would pay the workers before the end of last week

He said the workers have demanded for a meeting with TAZARA managing director Ronald Phiri so that he could explain what measures had been put in place to avoid such a situation in future.

Mr Silumbe said the workers were not sure if they would not face the same challenges as the company had no cargo to transport even if they resumed work after being paid their salaries.

“If government has released money then it is for the striking workers and we will not accept a situation where workers are given less than five months.

“Our fears are that management may decide to use the money on something else other than salary arrears. What we want to see is that every employee is paid, in the spirit of humanity,” he said.

Mr Silumbe however said management had continued to promise the workers that they would be paid their dues anytime but so far nothing had come to fruition.

The union leader said they were looking forward to a meeting with government and management after every employee was paid, to chart the way forward for the company.

He said they would like to ensure that the company had cargo to move so as to continue with its usual business.

And Mr Simuchile said the company could however not state how much it was losing as a result of the strike action.

He explained that as the situation stood, the company would not generate any revenue even if the workers resumed duties because trains had virtually come to a standstill due to lack of resources to buy fuel

Early last week, Transport minister Yamfya Mukanga told the Daily Nation that the striking workers would be paid by Friday the same week.