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Gweru Council Workers Stage Protests Over Outstanding Salaries

Most councils in Zimbabwe's urban areas are failing to pay workers' pay due to the current harsh economic environment.

Scores of Gweru City Council workers today staged a peaceful demonstration demanding payment of outstanding salaries amounting to millions of dollars.

The workers used their mid-morning break to gather and sing outside council offices in the city then returned to their various work stations after having been addressed by union leaders.

Some of the workers were holding placards criticizing councilors and council management for embarking on too many local trips, which they claimed were gobbling thousands of dollars.

Workers union representative, Cornelia Selipiwe, who is also chairperson of the Gweru Residents and Ratepayers’ Association, told Studio 7 they staged the demonstration to express their unhappiness over outstanding salaries.

Selipiwe said the council has not paid workers for almost three months while reneging on paying agreed salary hikes back-dated to April last year.

Documents seen by Studio 7 show that council owes workers over 2.6-million dollars in back-pay and salaries.

Addressing workers during the demo, workers' union deputy secretary, Frank Muzorera, said workers are concerned about alleged corruption by some unnamed councilors and council officials.

Muzorera accused them of illegally allocating themselves a large number of housing stands.

Gweru Town Clerk, Daniel Matau declined to give details on this and workers’ outstanding pay.

Although he claimed that employees are engaging council over their grievances, Selipiwe said they will continue staging such protests outside council offices.

The workers’ spokesperson further noted that they will engage in a full-scale strike if the local authority does not address their grievances as soon as possible.

Gweru mayor Hamutendi Kombayi was not available for comment as he was said to be out of his office.

Gweru residents recently staged peaceful protests after the city council introduced biting tariff increases of up to 35 percent. The Ministry of Local Government intervened and ordered the council to reverse the tariff hikes.

The local authority’s 32-million dollar budget for 2015 is now in jeopardy as the council’s major source of revenue is being squeezed by the government while workers cry foul over non-payment of salaries and wages.