HARARE – State-owned rail firm National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) remains paralysed as workers continue with a strike which entered its fourth day yesterday.
The strike has sucked in workers from Harare, Gweru, Mutare, Hwange and Bulawayo.
Hundreds who rely on the train service for travel or cargo transportation have been stranded as the industrial action has paralysed NRZ operations.
The 450 workers said the once giant State rail firm has failed to pay salaries for the past eight months and that they are working under poor conditions which endanger their lives.
The workers are represented by their unions Railway Artisans Union, Railway Association of Enginemen, Zimbabwe Amalgamated Railway Workers and Railway Association of Yard Operating Staff.
Railway Association of Enginemen president Norman Simba told the Daily News that the workers have reached a deadlock with management.
“We are not agreeing with our management. The area managers have written us letters of dismissal, while management at headquarters is asking us to continue with work as we are negotiating. They must put their house in order before they start talking to us,” said Simba.
“We are also facing poor working conditions as the rail lines and equipment is obsolete. In the past month we had seven train accidents as a result of the low morale amongst the workers and as the enginemen we are at the end of the line as we face danger in our work,” said Simba.
He said NRZ manager Mike Karakadzai, a retired Air Force commander, was threatening the workers and misleading the nation about the situation at the parastatal, which is collapsing despite enjoying a monopoly.
But Karakadzai has been quoted in the media encouraging workers to return to work as they have been advised by the Labour Court not to engage in the strike action.
He is calling for negotiations to end the dispute.