The Government will not be allowed to extend the illegal wage and employment freeze beyond this year, Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Roy Mwaba has warned,
And Mr Mwaba has charged that the Patriotic Front (PF) was de-campaigning itself by imposing the two year wage freeze because civil servants were not happy with the employment and wage freeze policy.
Mr Mwaba has maintained that the wage freeze was illegal because government did not follow laid-down procedure when declaring the wage and employment freeze.
He said the Government was supposed to have called all the national unions including ZCTU for consultation before placing a moratorium on wages and employment.
“Government was supposed to have informed us about all the difficulties which the nation was facing before announcing their illegal wage freeze. The cost of living has been increasing and all we get from government is the imposition of a wage freeze,” Mr Mwaba said.
He said that it was against labour laws for government to have unilaterally imposed a wage and employment freeze stating that there should have been dialogue between government and the labour movement before taking such a drastic action.
Mr Mwaba said the current laws were very clear and allowed public service workers to negotiate for new salary and conditions of service annually.
“The Industrial Relations Act says every year, public service workers will be going for negotiations for new salaries and conditions of service. Government has decided that for the next two years, salaries and conditions of service will not be revised. It is against the law for government to unilaterally impose a wage freeze without explaining to the workers,” he said.
Mr Mwaba added that the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions were clear about free collective bargaining every year.
“So what the government has done is illegal and they have no morality in condemning workers because when we talk about right and wrong, it should not be to the exclusion government. It is like our government is always right even when they break the law. This is a government that does not listen to its own citizens and unfortunately they have adopted a know-it-all attitude,” Mr Mwaba said.
He said it was very unfair for the government to be quick to react whenever unions called for strikes.
He said workers had the right to go on strike if the collective bargaining process failed and that it was incorrect for government to intimidate workers by threatening them with mass dismissals.
“We would like to see in the 2014 October National Budget some allocations towards salaries for our public service workers and if they do not the unions will have no choice but to take drastic action because we cannot accept a wage freeze for two consecutive years,” Mr Mwaba said.
He said the price of fuel and electricity tariffs had been increased and that it was likely that before the end of the year, there would be another increase in fuel pump prices.
“Zesco tariffs have gone up, the cost of living has risen beyond our members and the PF should not de-campaign itself by putting a wage freeze for two years,” he said.
Mr Mwaba further accused President Michael Chilufya Sata’s advisors of killing the PF stating that had the Head of State been properly advised, some of the harsh decisions and policies the government was implementing would have been avoided. “Those who are advising the President on the wage freeze are just killing the party because our workers are definitely not happy with the government of the day,” he said.