By Philemon Jambaya
Chitungwiza residents says the local council must cut expenditure on luxuries such as top-of-the-range vehicles and huge salaries for top executives instead of retrenching more than 700 workers at the end of this month. Council has said it will retrench these workers after it failed to raise their salaries.
The council of Chitungwiza needs approximately $1, 5 million for salaries while it generates $1, 2 million or less every month in contravention of the local government policy that requires municipalities not to spend more than 30 percent of their revenue on wages.
“We are going to retrench more than 700 workers at the end of this month because our council is over staffed and we are failing to raise enough money for salaries so it is a good idea to retrench some of the workers” said Mayor Philip Mutoti
Chitungwiza Residents Trust Secretary (CHITREZ) Tinashe Kazuru rubbished the idea of retrenching workers and advised the relevant authorities to cut the wage bill of the directors whom he said are always stationed at the head office while the lower grades workers try to work hard for the city to be conducive.
“This is utter rubbish, why would they want to remove the utility workers? The best thing they can do is to cut the wage bill of the executives rather than sending people back home. We are going to stand with the workers because they are also residents of this town.” said the former councillor.
The dormitory town of Chitungwiza is said to be one of the worst towns in terms of service delivery. Some residents whom we interviewed questioned the idea of retrenching workers.
“It is disheartening to note that the council wants to reduce the number of active employees while the said big number is failing to deliver, I think the council need to increase the number of the lower grade workforce because as it stands our council is one of the worst councils in this country” Said Raymond Dambakurima, a ward 2 resident.
Efforts to speak to the workers representatives proved fruitless as the whole executive was suspended last year, but we managed to speak to one of the workers who refused to be named.
“I have worked for this council since 2002 and some people who came to council recently want to retrench us. They must be joking because the package which they are offering is too little for a person like me. I hear that they want to start with us who are above the age of 60” said the source.
This unfortunate decision by council comes at a time when government is failing to create employment in fulfilment of its election promises. Last year more than 6000 workers were retrenched.
Most of these workers fear they will be offloaded without receiving their terminal benefits as the council has no money.
Meanwhile government has not delivered on its promise to cut the salaries and allowances of top government and municipal bosses. Last year it was reported that the top ten executives in the Harare City Council were taking home $500000 amongst themselves. One wonders where the likes of Joseph Chinotimba are to defend the interests of workers when they are needed.
*Philemon Jambaya is Youth Forum Secretary For Infomation – www.youthforumzim.org*