PUBLIC Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Prisca Mupfumira has ordered disgruntled National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) workers, who downed tools last month over non-payment of salaries, to immediately return to work pending the determination of the matter.
The Minister yesterday issued the order following an application to the Labour Court by the NRZ management for a show cause order.
A show cause is a type of court order that requires one or more of the parties to a case to justify, explain, or prove something to the court.
“Pending the determination of this matter, I further direct that the collective job action be terminated immediately, and in any case within 24 hours of the serving of this order,” said Minister Mupfumira.
NRZ spokesperson Fanuel Masikati yesterday also appealed to the workers to return to work.
“As NRZ management, we’re appealing to all our workers to heed the Minister’s directive and immediately return to work so that our trains resume operations and start running again and we earn money,” said Masikati.
Ironically, NRZ top management received almost $1 million in salaries last year processed through an executive bank account held with a local bank.
The workers across the country downed tools bringing to a halt operations including the transportation of imported wheat and drought relief maize.
The ailing parastatal, which is saddled with a $144 million debt; $68 million of which is owed to workers, continues to experience plummeting traffic levels, which have negatively impacted on income.
NRZ board chairman Larry Mavima alleged that some of the striking workers were behind the derailment of a goods train in Gweru last month.
The train, with 26 wagons, was headed for South Africa with more than 1,000 tonnes of nickel.
Media reports said preliminary investigations indicate that four points along the railway line behind Fairmile Hotel in Gweru were tampered with and covered with sorghum stalks to obscure the engine man’s vision.