By Mehluli Sibanda
The Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) was not in support of the latest Highlanders players’ strike, with the footballers body advising the sportsmen to follow the right procedures before they embark on such action in future.
As it turns out the players never engaged FUZ before engaging in the strike. FUZ president Desmond Maringwa is said to have informed them that their actions were illegal as they had not given their employer 14 days’ notice.
Maringwa and his deputy Herbert Dick met the Bosso players leadership, executive committee members as well as chief executive officer Nhlanhla Dube. It was after the Bosso players had refused to train in the build up to last Sunday’s Chibuku Super Cup clash against Bulawayo City.
The players only temporarily suspended their industrial action a day before the match when they trained at a private school before they went on to win 1-0. Last Tuesday, the Bosso players refused to take part in a scheduled gym session as no solution had been found to the impasse with the club.
On that day, the players changed into their training gear for a session that was meant to be presided over by the club’s fitness trainer, Harold Nhachi. The training, at a gym located in Bulawayo’s Central Business District did not happen as the players decided after a few minutes of gathering that they were going back on strike.
Maringwa headed over to Bulawayo to find a solution to the impasse. On Thursday, Maringwa and Dick picked up Highlanders captain Ariel Sibanda together with his deputies, Nqobizitha Masuku and Peter Muduhwa from the gym for the meeting with the club’s leadership.
The rest of the squad remained behind to take part in a gym session before all the players did ball work on Friday.
Highlanders players were pushing for their monthly salaries to be topped up by US$100. The club said it could only afford US$50 but FUZ pushed that amount to US$70, which ended up being the agreed figure.
Bosso players are said to have since been paid that amount as a top up to their May salaries. FUZ secretary-general, Thomas Sweswe said they do not encourage their members to go on strike, instead they should push for amicable solutions between clubs and players.
“We do not advocate for our members to go on strike, they should engage in dialogue with their clubs. We encourage the players to come to us first before they engage in any strike action. FUZ is not there to fight clubs, we understand the situation. If the Highlanders players had come to us first, we would have told them to follow the right procedures. We always do these workshops with players to educate them on the right procedures to follow,’’ said Sweswe.
The former Bosso defender expressed his gratitude to the club’s leadership for agreeing to work with the FUZ leadership in finding a solution.
“We want to thank Highlanders for allowing us to meet them on behalf of the players and a solution was found and we hope there are no issues going forward. Our president, Desmond Maringwa ended up coming to Bulawayo specifically to understand the grievance from the players and the club,’’ Sweswe said.
According to Sweswe, the situation is terrible when it comes to player remuneration at local football clubs, which has been made worse by teams playing matches with no fans allowed when football resumed.
“The situation is bad for most of our players, it’s tricky at clubs, we are advocating for a minimum wage. We hope more sponsors will come in to sponsor the teams, we understand the situation at clubs. It’s a lesson to clubs to have income generating projects but players must also find other ways of making money,’’ he said.
It has since emerged that the Highlanders players strike could have been averted had information been passed to the club’s executive committee. Bosso players are said to have informed the executive that they had told the team management as far as back as April that if their salaries for May were to remain the same, they would not accept them, but that information was never passed on, resulting in them going on strike. The Sunday News