…Plunges Zim into darkness
ZESA workers have declared they will not be able to continue reporting for work due to lack of money, a situation which is likely to cripple operations at the power utility.
Workers at Hwange Power Station, the country’s largest coal fired plant, have formally served ZESA executive chairman, Sydney Gata and other executives at the power utility with the notification of incapacitation.
Workers committee chairperson, Themba Godknows Mangadza at Hwange Power Station, wrote to Gata on November 5, 2020, declaring incapacitation.
The letter, seen by Business Times, was copied to head corporate affairs at ZESA head office, Zimbabwe Power Company acting managing director, human resources manager and Hwange Power Station general manager.
It is understood that workers at other power stations in Harare, Munyati, Bulawayo and Kariba, have also declared incapacitation.
This could potentially cripple operations at the struggling power utility.
Workers said their salaries have been severely eroded by high inflation.
The least paid worker, according to Mangadza, is earning about ZWL$1,200, an amount only enough to buy US$14 using the forex auction rate or US$12 on the black market.
“At a meeting held on the 4th of November 2020 at Canteen A, Hwange Power Station, employees resolved to declare incapacitation with effect from 6th November 2020 until all their salary arrears are paid once-off,” reads part of the letter written by Mangadza.
“They also further request for a more realistic basic salary from about ZWL$1 200 to ZWL$2 400, which is more insulting cognisant of the current breadbasket currently pegged at about ZWL$24 000.
(Also), fellow employees continue to die and suffer due to a dysfunctional medical aid.”
The workers are also at loggerheads with Gata and management over more than ZWL$120m salary arrears from the 2012 collective bargaining agreement.
Previously, former ZESA chief executive, Josh Chifamba, stated unequivocally that the power utility had no capacity to pay such a substantial back pay and management would not concede to pressure from workers because the back pay was unsustainable.
ZESA pleaded incapacitation to meet the obligation saying it was technically insolvent and have been running accumulative losses amounting to more than ZWL$500m annually over the past few years.
Gata could not be reached for comment by the time of going to print.
Observers said if Gata and management do nothing about these matters, workers would go on strike, a situation likely to paralyse ZESA operations.
The strike would plunge the country into darkness.
This would also impact negatively on business operations.
Zimbabwe was plunged into darkness this week on depressed power supplies due to technical fault at Hwange and Kariba power stations, according to Zesa.