The Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) is free to take Government to court if the wage freeze is illegal, Minister of Labour and Social Security Fackson Shamenda has said.
“If ZCTU are saying the wage freeze pronounced by Government is illegal, then they are free to take legal action,” Mr Shamenda said.
He advised ZCTU to use the correct channels to air their grievances when they were not happy with government’s decision.
“I am not a biased referee in labour matters. Mr Hikaumba has my mobile number and knows my office so let him not involve the media in these negotiations and. I have always told the unions that government and my office are always open for dialogue,” Shamenda said.
On Thursday, ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba accused Mr Shamenda of being biased.
He said it was clear that the labour minister was siding with government even during salary and conditions of service negotiations.
“Mr Shamenda is supposed to be a neutral person between government and the workers. He should have been the first person to condemn the wage freeze pronouncement,” Mr Hikaumba said.
But Mr Shamenda said it was not possible for him to condemn government on the wage freeze because he was a civil servant.
“Seriously, how do you expect me to condemn government for imposing the wage freeze when I am in government?” he asked.
Mr Shamenda said he was only human and prone to making mistakes and that if he had offended any person, he should be approached in a mature manner.
“Am a human being and so if I made a mistake, Mr Hikaumba should ask for me. If he doesn’t know my office, it is at government complex,” he said.
Mr Shamenda said ZCTU must understand that government makes decisions during cabinet meetings and that his role was merely to announce.
“When cabinet makes a decision, as an arbitrator I only announce to the general public in the same way I am supposed to announce to cabinet when the workers make a decision about something,” Mr Shamenda said.