Zimbabwe

Return-to-work ultimatum for pilots

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Striking pilots from Zimbabwe's state-owned Air Zimbabwe have been issued with a 24-hour ultimatum to return to work or face dismissal. The ultimatum was issued Thursday night at the close of the second day of a strike that is costing the airline around 400,000 euros a day. 

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The government and Air Zimbabwe say they cannot afford to pay the 60 pilots their
full salaries of 2,500 dollars a month, but have promised to make up their back-wages.

RFI Correspondedent Ryan Truscott in Harare says the pilots claim they are owed up to three million dollars in unpaid allowances and are struggling to make ends meet.

"One pilot told me, under condition of anonymity,  that the pilots were unlikely to meet the deadline." says Truscott. "He said they don't want to continue to work for peanuts."

According to the state-run Herald newspaper, pilots are supposed to receive up to 10,000 dollars a month including allowances.

There was chaos at Harare International Airport as the strike began Wednesday, with two planes left abandoned on the runway and disgruntled passengers milling around the airport.

The strike has left some passengers stranded at the country's airports, while hoteliers and tour operators in the resort town of Victoria Falls have been forced to cancel bookings.

Air Zimbabwe is one of several state-owned firms that have posted losses and is short-listed for a sell-off. The airline is weighed down with debt, an ageing fleet and high staff turnover.

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