DRIVERS of buses owned by private players registered under the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) yesterday downed tools in Bulawayo before staging a demonstration at the company’s Kelvin depot, claiming to have gone for two months without salaries.
Passengers in and around the city were left stranded after the fuming drivers parked their buses, saying they would only resume work after receiving their salaries.
“We are Zupco drivers, we have gone for two months without any salary and when we ask them (Zupco authorities), they tell us that we have no contract with Zupco and refer us to the owners of the buses we drive. When we ask the bus owners, they tell us that Zupco has not yet paid them anything, so they cannot pay us,” one of the drivers told the Daily News yesterday on condition of anonymity for fear of victimisation.
“We are making between $14 000 and $18 000 per day, but they are failing to pay bus owners something like $7 000 so that they pay us. The management is getting paid, whilst we are wallowing in poverty. We are not going anywhere. Today no bus is ferrying passengers.”
Currently, only Zupco-registered buses are allowed to operate as the government seeks to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The drivers further told the Daily News yesterday that they were subjected to more working hours without getting anything for the overtime, let alone monthly salaries.
“We work extra hours, we knock off at night and everyday by four in the morning they expect us to be at work.
“Even to get fuel, you queue up to 12 midnight and the next day you are expected at work, barely three hours after leaving the fuel station. This is very difficult and we do not expect such harsh treatment on top of not getting paid,” another driver said.
The driver said they had decided to stage a demonstration to show the seriousness of the matter.
“Some authorities are telling us that we should go and ferry stranded passengers, but we are saying no, we are also stranded because we are no longer able to pay rent and our families are starving. If passengers are stranded, then let the manager go and ferry them because we are not going anywhere,” shouted another driver.
The drivers also said they were being harassed by Zupco workers who are always giving them instructions.
One of the managers only identified as Domu, came to address the drivers and asked them to return to work, but they vowed to stay put until their grievances were addressed.
Efforts to get a comment from Zupco Bulawayo division manager Tineyi Rwasoka were fruitless as his phone went unanswered yesterday.