Energy sector workers threaten to strike

Workers in the energy sector have threatened to down tools over salaries, after it emerged that their employers had boycotted all salary negotiation meetings for the last two months.

Sources said that energy workers, most of them from the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and Green Fuel, had lined up several collective bargaining meetings and were surprised that their employers had shunned the sessions.

At a stormy meeting held in Masvingo last week, the workers said that they would embark on a go-slow if their employers continued to ignore them.

“What are we waiting for if our employers continue to take us for granted and boycott such important meetings?” asked one of the workers.

“The only logical thing to do is to embark on a strike and this way I think the whole management will take us seriously and start negotiating with us in good faith,” added another.

The workers have so far given no timeframe for the strike.

Zimbabwe Energy Workers’ Union’s Angeline Chitambo confirmed the development, adding that companies should take such collective bargaining meetings seriously.

“Workers are sick and tired of the developments in the energy sector and have advised us of an impending industrial action” said Chitambo.

“We have always advised workers to seek dialogue before withdrawing their labour, but the issue is now complex because employers are refusing to attend salary negotiation meetings.”

Although it could not be established what percentage salary increase the workers in the energy sector were pushing for, sources said that those working for Green Fuel were the lowest paid in the sector.

It also emerged that management of Green Fuel was not willing to have their workers fall under the Zimbabwe Energy Workers’ Union. Instead, they want their workers to be in the Zimbabwe Sugar Milling Workers’ Union, which represents workers in the sugarcane growing sector.

ZESA has said they are not attending salary negotiation meetings because their board is still newly appointed. Sources say, however, that the board has not met once since it was set up three months ago.

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