Wage freeze negotiations stall

The mediation talks following the public service workers unions’ decision to declare a dispute after Government imposed a wage freeze have hit a snag, the Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (CSAWUZ) has charged.

And Vice-President Guy Scott told Parliament yesterday that it was difficult at this stage to state whether Government would reconsider the wage freeze imposed on public service workers.

CSAWUZ general secretary Joy Beene told the Daily Nation yesterday that the discussions were useless but could not give more information.

He said  he would only give a detailed interview on the matter on Monday.

“I will give you more details on why the discussions are useless on Monday. For now I am out of office,” he said.

And Dr Scott told Parliament that it was difficult to state whether Government would consider reviewing the wage freeze imposed on public service workers.

Dr. Scott said this yesterday during the 30-minute Vice-President’s question time.

“The situation is a little bit tricky because of two things; one is that there are discussions going on between Government and the public service unions at Cabinet Office. This rather puts me in a very difficult position and if I say something strongly, it might be regarded as prejudicial,” said Dr. Scott who was responding to Chipili PF Member of Parliament Davis Mwila who wanted to know whether there was a possibility by Government and the public service unions to sit down and review the wage freeze.

Mr. Mwila expressed concern that the action taken by Government could affect the private sector too who might emulate Government’s decision to impose the wage freeze on their workforce.

“Do we see any review on that decision (wage freeze) in that the standard practice in terms of bargaining is that you meet annually? And don’t you expect a spill- over to the private sector to say that they will also impose the wage freeze?” asked Mr. Mwila.

In response, Dr. Scott said the situation was tricky for him to comment on with authority as discussions were still under way after the workers union declared a dispute. Dr. Scott was also hopeful that during next week’s business in Parliament there would be a motion to debate the lifting of the wage freeze.

“In fact they have declared a dispute and things are proceedings in an orderly fashion to look at this. Further more, in the business of the House for next week that there is a motion that we should lift this freeze and that will take an hour or two. I think I would rather leave this issue to sort itself out through the channels I have just mentioned,” he said.