Labour movement a big let down

The labour movement in Zambia has taken the country backward on account of having failed to speak on behalf of workers who can contribute to the country’s development, says political activists Dante Saunders.

Mr Saunders said the labour movement failed to address challenges facing workers in the country, and that it was the reason why the government was dilly-dallying on issues affecting workers.

He said the labour movement should take the blame for inadequatley representing workers, especially prompting government to take severe action on workers.

“They must admit failure and should now work on modalities to see how things will work in future, because reacting or talking without action will never solve anything,” he said.

Mr Saunders was commenting on the standoff between the government and the labour unions.

ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba had been reported saying the trade union movement in the country was already dead when he took over from Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda as ZCTU president in 2002.

Mr Shamenda was also quoted saying trade unions in Zambia are dead and buried because union leaders lacked good negotiating skills. Mr Saunders said he wouldn’t be surprised by the arguments because nothing has been achieved and worked in favour of the workers in the country.

He said the government had made various statements on issues regarding workers because they knew the institution looking at the plight of workers was deformed.

He called on stakeholders involved in labour matters to quickly address the situation in the ministry of Health, instead of remaining quiet when things were not working according to plan.

“The labour movement is not working in Zambia and it is for this reason the government is taking the Unions for granted.

‘‘Never a day passes without getting contradictory statements because they are very much aware that the unions in Zambia are toothless,” he said. Mr Saunders explained that it was for this reason the nurses and midwives were recently fired by the government because the unions have been quiet on the issue, despite giving unjustified ultimatums,’’ he said.