Sondashi backs ILO on illegal wage freeze

The International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s declaration of the current wage freeze in the public service as justified is correct, says the Forum for Democratic Alternatives party (FDA) president Ludwig Sondashi

He has said such a move should have been agreed upon by the various stakeholders through substantial dialogue.

Dr Sondashi who is former Minister of Labour in the Frederick Chiluba administration said the explanation of how to arrive at a wage freeze goes to show how grave the matter is in labour circles.

ILO Regional Director Aeneas Chuma said on Monday that the decision by the Zambian government to freeze wages and recruitment of staff in the public service should have been agreed upon by the various stakeholders through substantial dialogue.

Dr Sondashi said his party took a strong exception with the manner the PF government was handling the wage and recruitment freeze in the civil service.

He said it was unfortunate for government to allege that unions did not consult them on their displeasure over the wage freeze.

“It is strange and unfortunate that the Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda appeared to be intimidating and belittling the labour movement in Zambia, by citing them as people who lack knowledge of engagement strategies and negotiation skills to enable them convince employers on labour issues,” he said.

Dr Sondashi said it was hypocritical for the labour minister to suggest consultations now, when it was the ministry which was expected to keep in line with the PF manifesto promise of more jobs and decent pay.

“Mr. Shamenda, himself a former president of the ZCTU should be alive to this fact and the ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba is on record saying that even when there were indications that there was going to be a two year wage freeze, government never consulted the unions,” he said.

Dr Sondashi wondered how a wage and recruitment freeze in the civil service would ultimately assist in the quality and efficient service of delivery in the civil service.

He said the government should realise that such action and arrogance by government gave the private sector wrong signals.

“One is therefore left wondering how the private sector would negotiate for improved salaries and conditions of service for their workers, if government has failed to lead by example,” he said.

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