Public workers declare dispute

Countrywide strikes by civil servants are looming as all the ten Public Service Unions of the country have declared a collective dispute with the Patriotic Front (PF) government for failed salary negations.

And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Roy Mwamba has charged that government should quickly change the current labour laws in order to allow negotiation which would in turn allow workers to resort to industrial unrest whenever negotiations failed.

The government did not honour the 2013 collective agreement which expired in January this year and the salary negotiations have failed because government is not ready to listen to the demands of the workers,” Mr Mwaba said.

He said this was the first time since independence that all the public unions had declared a dispute over failed salary negotiations and blamed the PF government for failing to talk about salaries during the negotiation process.

Mr Mwaba said the unions were not supposed to operate without a collective agreement but that government had left them without any option but to reject their position over the salary negotiations.

Mr Mwaba said if government fails to agree with the union’s reconciliatory representative, it would be setting a fertile ground for industrial unrest.

“Workers will have no option but to go on industrial unrest if government continues failing to agree with unions.

It is the last resort in the bargaining process and it would appear government is preparing ground for this action by failing to listen to the plight of the workers,” Mr Mwaba said.

He said PF government was promoting a national wide strike because of its failure to negotiate with unions over many issues which included revised salaries.

Mr Mwaba also maintained that the declaration of wage freeze by the PF government was illegal and that they did not consult the labour movement.

He said the wage freeze was against the International Labour Organisation Convention C98 which talked about free collective bargaining with government.