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BCC averts strike

by Staff reporter
09 Feb 2020 at 06:23hrs | Views
THE BULAWAYO City Council was last week forced to give in to workers' demands of a salary review to avert a looming strike by the workers, Sunday News can exclusively reveal.

Council workers had been unsuccessfully engaging the local authority over salary adjustments and the need to give workers a substantive Cost of Living Allowance. In the latest developments, it has been established that top management was forced to work overtime last month as a workers' strike was inevitable.

According to a council confidential document penned by the local authority's acting human capital director, Mr Makhosi Tshalebwa, workers were preparing to picket at the Large City Hall on 9 January.

"Council had received and noted a report on intended picketing by council employees on 9 January 2020 at the City Hall premises. The main reason for the intended picketing was ostensibly to register the workers' displeasure over the slow pace of negotiations due to the delay in the approval of the budgets by Central Government. Management promptly engaged the union leadership leading to averting of picketing and subsequent dialogue which culminated into the hosting of two Permanent Negotiating Council (PNC) meetings on 9 and 14 January 2020," reads the report.

However, in an interview with Sunday News Zimbabwe Urban Councils Workers Union (ZUCWU - Bulawayo branch) chairperson, Mr Ambrose Sibindi disputed Mr Tshalebwa's description of events that the strike was mainly because of the Government's delay in approving the 2020 budget.

"Workers were not happy with the pace council management were taking to convene the PNC meeting. Yes, workers had grievances regarding their salaries but the first step was for the PNC to meet. On the said day workers were already organising themselves to go to the Large City Hall and stage some form of sit-in and as their representatives, we informed management, their honest reaction was that they panicked and within a couple of hours the PNC had been convened to avert an embarrassing strike," said Mr Sibindi.

He revealed that the PNC negotiations were now smooth sailing and as workers they were confident of a positive outcome.

Meanwhile, according to the report the local authority has since granted the payment of a once-off $600 cost of living allowance as part of the 2019 bonus component to further cushion its employees.

"Following the granting of the appropriate mandate to engage in Collective Bargaining negotiation, the PNC reconvened on 14 January and struck some agreement to the effect that whereas the union had previously requested that a total of three common allowances (housing, transport and COLA) be factored in as part of the bonus element of 2019, only COLA be included due to the prevailing financial constraints.

"Consequently, therefore, the employer partly proceeded to pay the prevailing COLA ($600) per employee as a once-off bonus component for 2019 in line with the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement in force," reads part of the report.

In October last year council rejected a request from its workers for a salary hike that would have seen the workers getting a top-up of $500 across board and a COLA of 80 percent. Instead the local authority through its collective bargaining mechanism has adjusted workers' basic salary by  $100 while the COLA had been set at 33 percent opposed to the union's original submission of $500 and 80 percent respectively.

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Source - sundaynews