Lift wage, employment freeze, Hikaumba appeals to govt

The government should not go ahead and implement the proposed wage and employment moratorium because the policy would worsen the economic welfare of Zambians, the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has said.

ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba has urged the Patriotic Front (PF) government to reconsider its position in the wage and employment freeze stating that the unions had made its position with the hope that government would not effect its policy this year.

Reflecting on the International Labour Day celebrations taking place on Thursday this week, Mr Hikaumba said government as a major employer and a regulator of the labour laws must at all time lead by example in terms of conditions of workers.

Mr Hikaumba said reports of abuse of workers by some employers were worrying and appealed to government to continue closely monitoring some investors in the habit of deliberately flouting the country’s labour laws.

He said the general working conditions for Zambian workers both in government and the private sector were poor adding that unless there was political will, a large population of the workers in the country would remain vulnerable to abuse by their employers.

Mr Hikaumba urged government and the private sector to avoid procrastination in the collective bargaining process because such an attitude had potential to frustrate workers.

He warned that any attempts to frustrate workers by denying them motivating working conditions was a recipe for industrial unrest and advised government and to avoid creating an environment that would spark wild cat strikes.

Mr Hikaumba said ZCTU was aware that negotiations for improved conditions of service were currently going on and urged government and the private sector to be genuine and transparent in the process of collective bargaining.

He said there was need for workers and employers to cultivate a culture of mutual trust in the process of bargaining because mistrust had the potential to derail the process.

“Government has announced a wage and employment freeze until 2015 and as we commemorate the International Labour Day, our hope is that this policy will not be implemented because it has the potential to worsen the welfare of the workers in the country.

We have made our position to government and we sincerely hope that the wage and employment freeze will not be effected. We are also appealing to government to expedite the collective bargaining process to avoid creating an environment for industrial unrest,” Mr Hikaumba said.

And Mr Hikaumba has lambasted some companies that have barred their workers from joining unions stating that such an action was tantamount to abuse of workers.

He said some employees were being threatened by their employers of losing their jobs for belonging to unions and has appealed to government to conduct investigations and punish such institutions.

He said it was the right of every worker to join a union of his or her own choice and that investors violating the rights of their workers by denying them the chance to representation.

Mr Hikaumba has said that reports that some companies were presenting fraudulent financial reports to government with a view of escaping certain financial statutory obligations were worrying.

He alleged that some companies were faking financial reports to avoid rewarding their workers with acceptable and favourable working conditions.

He stated that government must not allow companies to deliberately declare false profit margins because such actions had the potential to cause industrial disharmony.

Mr Hikaumba said some companies were making huge profit margins but that their workers were working under deplorable conditions of service.

‘Our demand is that companies must be honest when presenting their financial reports to government.  We suspect that some companies are presenting fraudulent financial reports to avoid meeting certain statutory financial obligations such as improving the general working condition of employees.

If we discover that companies are presenting false financial reports, the implications will be mistrust and the result will be industrial disharmony because negotiations often fail when the truth is not told,” Mr Hikaumba said.