By Alois Vinga
EMBATTLED power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority’s (ZESA) workers are set to embark on a crippling strike over wage related issues.
The latest development is a hard blow for citizens and companies already experiencing excruciating electricity outages, sometimes running for periods in excess of 20 hours a day, in the process reversing economic gains made so far due to depressed industrial productivity.
Despite government making one promise after the other to the effect that the power situation will soon improve, nothing much has transpired on the ground.
Letters sent to the power utility’s workforce countrywide by the sector’s unions revealed details on the impending industrial action which, if not urgently solved, is likely to worsen the already terrible power situation.
“We refer to the above matter and advise that the National Energy Workers |Union of Zimbabwe (NEWUZ), Energy Sector Workers Union of Zimbabwe (ESWUZ) and the Zimbabwe Energy Workers Union (ZEWU) have jointly given notice to ZESA of our intent to resort to collective job action .
“It is clear that ZESA selects to destroy the unions by various actions. We therefore call upon you to rise in defence of the unions. Consequently members are enjoined to await signals from the unions,” the workers representatives said.
The workers groups have since notified ZESA of their intention to embark on crippling industrial action in terms of Section 104 (4) (b) of the Labour Act
“The grounds for the intended action are that ZESA refuses to implement the 2022 arbitral award. It refuses to engage the unions for 2023 Collective Bargaining Negotiations. It is unlawfully withholding union dues.
“ZESA’s actions are calculated to cripple the unions’ operations, render them useless and destroy them,” the notice to the employer reads in part.
The unions also accuse the employer of shooting down any request for dialogue in order to secure a lasting solution to the issues.
“In the premise, claimants are left with no other way to effectively defend their existence but to resort to collective job action,” the unions added.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com, NEWUZ secretary general, Thomas Masvingwe said the obtaining situation is now unbearable.
“We had a deadlock at collective bargaining for 2022. The dispute was referred to arbitration which ruled that the minimum wage at A1 be US$215 payable at prevailing interbank rate but the employer continues to ignore the award despite other companies in the industry having implemented the directive.
“ZESA also continues to hold on to three months long union dues despite having deducted the monies from our members,” he said.