NRZ staggers salary payments

Source: NRZ staggers salary payments – Sunday News July 24, 2016

Roberta Katunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE troubled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has been forced to revert to 50 percent salary payments owing to depleted revenue inflows, an official has said.

The parastatal is also channelling part of its workforce’s wages towards pension contributions.

In an interview with Sunday News Business, NRZ general manager Engineer Lewis Mukwada said due to a downturn in business, the parastatal had been forced to review salary allocations downwards from 70 percent for higher grades and from 85 percent for lower grades to 50 percent.

“There is a perception that the company cut salaries to 50 percent but the real issue is that from 2009 we have been paying salaries in a staggered manner. We realised that by the time we go through the cycle of paying a month’s salary, we would be owing workers two months arrears,” said Eng Mukwada.

He said the company had decided that the remaining portion of the staggered salary payments would go towards the workers’ pension which they are still liable to when they retire from the company.

Eng Mukwada said last year, the company had found it difficult to pay workers 70 percent of their salaries which led to arrears accumulating hence the strike in March.

“To pay people consistently every month, we decided to reduce the percentage payable. All the workers who left the company before July 2012 have received all their outstanding balances,” he said.

According to NRZ management, there is a possibility of the salary being reviewed depending on the operating environment with the company revealing that all the workers have returned to work and business is going on as usual after a labour court indictment.

Over 4 000 NRZ workers across the country went on strike for over two months, protesting non-payment of their salaries for the past 15 months. NRZ owes its workers more than $87 million in outstanding salaries and wages.

Meanwhile, Tourism and Hospitality Minister Dr Walter Mzembi said the rehabilitation of NRZ was important as underdeveloped infrastructure in the country was impacting negatively on the tourism sector. Dr Mzembi said going back to basics and rediscovering formula’s that worked would spur growth.

“When NRZ was vibrant, the manufacturing sector in Bulawayo was performing well. Tourism is a sector that is affected by the performance of other industries, that is why we need the NRZ to be restored to its former glory and this will also spur the revival of Bulawayo,” he said.