Journalists at Zimpapers in Bulawayo have declared incapacitation owing to low salaries, understaffing and lack of vehicles to transport them to assignments.
Zimpapers is one of the biggest media companies in the country and the Bulawayo stable houses, The Chronicle, Sunday News, B-Metro and Umthunywa publications.
The employees stated that their remuneration is low and cannot sustain them in the current economic situation.
They further raised concerns that they are understaffed and this results in them being overburdened with work.
Media professional body, Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), in a statement released Wednesday, demanded that the employees’ requests be met.
ZUJ Secretary General, Perfect Hlongwane, said the employees are requesting a salary increase, retooling of the newsroom and adequate vehicles that will enable them to execute their duties effectively.
He reiterated that what is sad is the reporters who have declared incapacitation work for the oldest and arguably the country’s largest media house which must be a leader and exemplary in remunerating and motivating its workers.
“The Union is disturbed to know that our members at ZimPapers, particularly the Chronicle, Sunday News, uMthunywa, and B-Metro have declared incapacitation to report for duty due to the meagre salaries that they receive from their employer,” Hlongwane said.
“What’s obtaining at the moment is that reporters at these publications are paid an equivalent of USD150 whose buying power has been eroded by the continuous inflation and price increases. Our members are now unable to commute to and from their workstations as public transport operators are now demanding foreign currency which the reporters don’t earn.
“Other challenges include severely understaffed newsrooms and a huge workload, no vehicles to take reporters for assignments, heavily curtailed data allocations, basic tools like pens and pencils and cancellation of out-of-station allowances. Our members say they have tried to use internal mechanisms to engage with the employer for an amicable resolution to the matter without any luck.”
Hlongwane said the declaration of incapacitation means that the workers will not be reporting for duty until their demands are met.
“Our members want salary increase to at least US$550 per month for the least paid, retooling of the newsroom to ensure they are adequately equipped for the job and ensuring they have roadworthy and safe vehicles as they are deployed to cover their diaries,” Hlongwane said.
“The Union calls upon Zimpapers to seriously and sincerely deal with the challenges that have grounded the reporters considering that the economy has virtually dollarised making it difficult for those earning meagre RTGS Zim dollars to make ends meet. We are in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Zimpapers as their situation is reflective of the dire situation facing many journalists across the industry who are struggling to put food on the table.”
Hlongwane implored the Government, as the majority shareholder, to intervene and help the struggling workers so that the current impasse is solved for normalcy to return at company.