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Strike at Air Zimbabwe Continues as Management Pleads Financial Woes

Sources said a meeting between representatives of workers and airline management ended Friday in a deadlock with the pilots vowing not to go back to work until salary arrears are paid

A strike by Air Zimbabwe pilots and other staff entered its fourth day on Friday with no indications of a resolution in the offing as management said it has no money to pay the workers outstanding salaries and allowances totaling US$9 million.

Sources said a meeting between worker representatives and management ended in a deadlock with pilots demanding payment to return to work. They said the airline begged the pilots, engineers and flight attendants to resume work while negotiations continue.

The sources said the workers are not likely to return to work without payment because they ended a September strike but then received only partial payment of arrears.

The current strike has grounded all national, South African regional and international flights including the lucrative Harare-London route. Many customers are demanding refunds but management said that this could take at least three months.

Economist Godfrey Kanyenze said there is no relief in sight for struggling state-controlled enterprises like Air Zimbabwe as most are technically insolvent and deeply in debt.

“There is no way that the airline management will come up with short-term measures to address this issue,” said Kanyenze.