NRZ woes worsen: workers unpaid for two months

NRZ woes worsen: workers unpaid for two months
Published: 04 January 2012 (3208 Views)
FINANCIAL woes dogging the National Railways of Zimbabwe have worsened amid reports that the parastatal has failed to pay its workers for two months in a raw.

This comes after further revelations that NRZ has negotiated an out of court settlement with an angry British company which it owes more than two million pounds – for what is not disclosed.

The broke firm's public relations manager yesterday acknowledged that workers were owed their November and December salaries.

He said the lower grades were paid 100 percent of their October salaries last month while the higher grades were paid 50 percent of the salaries for the same month.

"We are not doing well as business is very low and instead of realising $10 million a month, we are only managing $7 million which is not enough to meet our expenditure.

"The NRZ has already started processing the remaining 50 percent for the higher grades and once everyone has been paid their October salaries, then we will be able to start processing the November salaries for allthe employees," he said.

Mr Masikati said due to viability problems, the parastatal was forced to stagger the payment of salaries, adding that management was "very sympathetic to the plight of the workers and everything was being done to address the issue of salaries".

Mr Masikati said the parastatal had negotiated an out-of-court settlement with the British company, Railway Wheelset and Brake, which last year issued summons seeking payment of 2 688 943,42 pounds and interest of 1,5 percent per annum from 1 September 2009 to the date of full payment.

They further wanted NRZ to pay the costs of the suit including collection commission.

Mr Masikati could not be drawn to give details of the out-of-court settlement, only stating that an "amicable" agreement had been reached.

Contacted for clarification on the issues surrounding the out-of-court settlement, Mr Vonani Majoko, of Majoko and Majoko representing Railway Wheelset and Brake, said on the instructions of his clients, the matter was withdrawn without order as to costs on 23 December last year.

He could not be drawn to give further details stating that there was a confidentiality clause contained in the agreement.

According to the founding affidavit filed by the company on 18 June 2009, at a meeting of the parties' representatives held in Bulawayo, the NRZ acknowledged its indebtedness to the plaintiff, Railway Wheelset and Brake in writing.

The NRZ undertook to pay one half of the debt of 2,7 million pounds by the end of August 2009 and in any event pay not less that 100 000 pounds a month in the reduction of the debt.

"Defendant has breached the agreement in that the defendant has not paid on due date or at all one half of debt and has failed to pay the agreed 100 000 pounds monthly instalments and remains indebted to plaintiff in the sum 2 688 943,42 pounds, which sum despite demand, defendant fails to pay," reads the founding affidavit.

The NRZ through its lawyer, Mr Joseph James, of James, Moyo-Majwabu and Nyoni Legal Practitioners entered an appearance to defend and asked for further particulars as to what the debt was for. Railway Wheelset and Brake in turn informed them that the debt was for spares for electric locomotives.

In its synopsis of evidence, the NRZ noted that at a meeting between the parties on 4 March 2010, the total amount claimed by the plaintiff (not limited to the amount set out in the summons) was discussed and tentative figures were agreed upon, subject to confirmation of compliance with specifications before acceptance.

It was their contention that the parties were not able to finalise the agreement on the outstanding issues including the payment.

"Defendant has carried out an audit which has shown under delivery, poor quality, incorrect compliance and specifications and gross and unlawful overpricing of goods delivered," reads the document.

NRZ states that it has continued to make monthly payments of $100 000 to the plaintiff pending the resolution of the exact amount they owe to the plaintiff.

They further stated that the payment was increased to $120 000 per month. The parties had gone for a pre-trial conference before Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi and the matter was awaiting a trial date if the parties could not reach an out-of-court settlement.

- Byo24News

Tags: NRZ,
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