Sunday, 3 July 2016

‘Scrap rent until workers are paid’

THE National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) should scrap rent for workers living in company houses until it resumes full payment of salaries, the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Labour and Social Welfare has recommended.

The committee also suggested that the ailing parastatal should sell some of its assets and the Government should capacitate it to pay workers.

Moving a motion on the NRZ report, chairperson of the committee Cde Goodluck Kwaramba (MP Proportional Representation, Zanu-PF) said: “Under-utilised company assets such as houses at the NRZ Dete Station should be rented out or sold to raise revenue for settling salary arrears. In addition, rental charges on NRZ houses should be scrapped to allow employees and their families to stay free of charge until the company resumes regular payment of full salaries,” said Cde Kwaramba.
‘Scrap rent until workers are paid’
“The Government should assist NRZ in its recapitalisation drive by guaranteeing the loan implementation of recommendations of the Auditor-General’s Narrative Report on State Enterprises and Parastatals of 2014. These include regular review of monthly bank reconciliation statements and evaluation of investment properties to guard against fraud,” said Cde Kwaramba.

“The committee also recommends that the parastatal considers partnering with ICT operators in order to come up with efficient communication solutions for train control purposes.”

He said among the committees’ findings, workers presented a plethora of challenges, among them total neglect of their welfare and salary arrears without any indicative dates of payment.

“Salary reductions at NRZ to paltry amounts which could not meet basic living needs of workers and their families and lack of fixed dates of salary payments which made it impossible for workers to plan. Victimisation in the dismissal of workers at NRZ on the basis of the July 2015 Supreme Court ruling which affected lower grades only, non-remittance of deducted monies appearing on pay slips which prejudiced workers of due benefits such as medical aid and retirement packages were listed,” said Cde Kwaramba.

The company’s board chairman, Mr Larry Mavima, last week revealed that 1 400 NRZ workers are set to be retrenched after the completion of a forensic audit of the company.

Mr Mavima said NRZ, which is saddled with a $144 million debt with the workers owed over $68 million in outstanding salaries, is set to embark on a forensic audit of its estates, assets and human resources as part of the implementation of its turnaround strategy.

NRZ employs about 5 700 people. In April, over 4 000 NRZ workers embarked on an industrial action to press their employer to pay them outstanding salaries dating back more than 15 months.
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