JAWUZ warns govt over K80m unpaid salary arrears

Delays by government to pay judicial workers salary arrears now standing at a staggering K80 million is totally regrettable and unacceptable, says Judicial and Allied workers Union of Zambia president Peter Mwale.

Mwale said his organization was not happy over government’s delay to liquidate the K80 million arrears owed to its members countrywide.

Speaking during a media briefing in Lusaka on Wednesday Mwale said that despite efforts to meet government over the matter, Secretary to the treasury Fredson Yamba had ignored their request.

He lamented that failure by government to hear their side of the story had worsened the plight of his members and other Judiciary employees

“We hereby notify the Judiciary workers that the union has exhausted all available amicable channels in pursuing Judiciary management to liquidate the outstanding personal emoluments owed to our workers.

“Disappointingly our efforts have been to no avail solely on account of the failure and neglect of the Ministry of Finance to honour its obligation to fund the Judiciary. This has resulted in the figure to rise to over K80 million,” he said.

Mwale observed that of the outstanding K80 million, the Ministry of Finance had only released only K3 million which has since been paid to retirees, a situation which prompted JAWUZ to seek a meeting with Yamba to find a way of clearing the arrears.

“Unfortunately the Secretary to the Treasury has opted to throw out our demand. We cannot allow  this and if need be as a union we feel that this is a proper case for any incompetent officer charged with public office functions to step down on account of serious inertia.

“The secretary to the treasury in our view has lamentably failed,” read a Press Statement jointly signed by Mwale and JAWUZ General Secretary Vincent Makondo.

He said the abrogation of Collective Agreements, bargaining Rules and labour laws was a sad development on the part of government.

Mwale cited failure to implement the funeral and health insurance schemes in the manner agreed with the unions consecutively in both 2012 and 2013 collective agreements as a matter of concern.

“Further, government’s failure to implement the establishment of the Public Service Credit Bank agreed with unions in the 2012 and 2013 collective agreements can be regarded as betrayal of the workers trust.

“Workers and JAWUZ members feel cheated. Our workers and members were called upon to submit loan applications which have not yielded any results,” Mwale said.

Mwale warned the Patriotic Front (PF) government to rethink its stance on the quietly imposed wage freeze without engaging unions while at the time lying to the workers that they were engaged in negotiations with the labour movement.

“Yet since we as JAWUZ submitted our demands, government has continued to shift goal posts through delaying tactics and unnecessary extensions. This has caused a lot of anxiety to the workers and put

unnecessary pressure on the unions.

“JAWUZ in this regard would not want to be used to manipulate the workers particularly by its own government .. We do not want to have a repeat of the double standards exhibited by government involving nurses and Ministry of Justice workers who were intimidated and manipulated by government’s carelessness in handling workers plight,” said Mwale

He  urged JAWUZ member’s country wide not to relent in standing up and demand for what was due to them.

Meanwhile, Mwale threatened to boycott the celebrations marking Zambia’s Golden Jubilee (50 years) should the plight of workers countrywide remain deplorable.

“If  the arrears remain unpaid by the time the actual Jubilee celebrations are held, JWUZ will see no reason or justification to participate,” Mwale threatened.