BY NIZBERT MOYO
OVER 400 Zupco franchise drivers in Bulawayo yesterday downed tools in protest over poor working conditions and alleged victimisation by management.
The drivers, who spoke to NewsDay on condition of anonymity at the bus company’s Kelvin North Zupco depot, said they were owed two months salaries.
They said each time they tried to raise their concerns with Zupco management, they were either threatened with dismissal or told that they had no contract with Zupco.
“We have not been paid for two months since June 14, but we cash-in $16 000 or more everyday per bus. They give us $6 700 through EcoCash per day and they fail to pay us on time. We start work at 3am and we are supposed to refuel from 8pm until about 12 midnight with no time to rest,” one of the drivers said.
“Once we complain over such conditions, point inspectors threaten us with arrest. We are not given masks, there have no COVID-19 and food allowances, yet their conductors are given all these allowances,” he said.
Other drivers said they worked throughout the Heroes Day and Defences Forces Day holidays and were not paid allowances while Zupco conductors were paid allowances calculated at double rate.
“Those drivers that come to work five minutes late are sent back home. We used to get 40 litres of diesel for our trips — according to the agreement — but this has been reduced to between eight and 15 litres per day. We are not allowed into the premises once we meet the target of $16 000,” another driver said.
The drivers said they were forced to join the Zupco franchise due to the transport monopoly.
“Management promised to pay us the outstanding salaries backdated to four weeks yesterday afternoon, but they failed. We will not go back to work until they pay us for six weeks,” the driver said.
Efforts to get a comment from Zupco acting chief executive officer Everisto Madangwa were fruitless.
Zupco southern region manager Tinei Rwasoka was also not reachable for comment.