Uproar over protective clothing sets health time bomb

Industrial action by local council workers has paralysed key operations in the city and roused the anger of residents over the resulting health dangers.

Garbage in residential areas and in the city-centre has not been collected.
Garbage in residential areas and in the city-centre has not been collected.

Manual job employees downed tools last week demanding protective clothing. Zimbabwe Urban Council Workers Union Chairman for Gweru Branch, Robson Kilimboi, said it is against labour regulations for workers to go to work in jeans and T-shirts as has been happening.

“Some workers are also going to work in filthy public toilets wearing plastic bags as footwear. We cannot compromise on safety,” Kilimboi said.

He also indicated that some of the council workers in departments like health and recreational parks have gone for five years without the requisite clothing.

Efforts to seek support from the National Social Security Agency, Kilimboi said, were not successful – making the workers turn to industrial action as a last resort.

“I went to NSSA and accompanied one of their top officials to where there are serious breaches of safety of workers. But they did not do anything tangible to solve our problem.”

A snap survey carried out by this paper revealed that garbage in residential areas and in the city-centre has not been collected. Meanwhile the recreational park in town has been marred by refuse.

“The council management should give an ear to the demands of their workers. The situation cannot continue like this,” said Tene Chikanga, a resident from Riverside.

“We pay a lot to the council while they do little service for us. It’s not fair,” Japhet Ndabeni told The Zimbabwean news crew in Mkoba during the survey.

Scores of other residents fumed with anger in other suburbs saying council is short-changing them.

“We understand the grievances of the workers. Council is taking them seriously and we are in the process of acting upon them,” said the Mayor, Teddious Chimombe.

Town Clerk Daniel Matau said clothing companies tasked with providing the safety regalia for workers were taking long to deliver the goods.

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