Workers are angry-ZCTU

THE Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has said public service workers are unhappy with the wage and unemployment freeze, the dismissal of more than 500 nurses and the unilateral increase of the retirement age from 55 to 65 years.

ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba has appealed to presidential contenders in the January presidential election to be honest and stick to their promises as they canvass for votes from the electorate.

Mr Hikaumba said the Patriotic Front (PF) made mega and flamboyant promises while in the opposition but changed and refused to honour their pledges after forming government which he said had angered workers and the general citizenry.

He said the labour movement had on countless times requested for dialogue on outstanding and pressing labour issues but late President Michael Sata refused to meet the labour leaders.

Mr Hikaumba said the PF government had a chance to resolve a number of pressing labour challenges but that the leadership was not willing to listen to the cries of the workers.

He told the Sunday Nation that the labour movement was also concerned that presidential contenders had continued to make promises that could not be fulfilled in the transitional period stating that it was being dishonest to pledge things that cannot be achieved.

“In 1991, the MMD made a lot of promises and did not fulfill all of them and in 2011, the PF made mega and flamboyant promises and immediately they formed government, they u-turned on most of them. Some of the promises the PF made are still very fresh. We want to have a leadership that will live by what they promise. We want issues of employment and wage freeze resolved. We wanted the fired nurses reinstated and even wanted to meet President Sata but he refused,” Mr Hikaumba said.

He said Acting President Guy Scott unilaterally increased the retirement age while the matter was still under discussion adding that the many things the PF achieved in the three years under former president Sata had been eroded by the inability to deliver and listen to the voices of the people.

Mr Hikaumba advised presidential aspirants to avoid malice, slander and insults during their campaigns because Zambians wanted to listen to what the leaders would do if voted into power.

“Zambians are tired of politics of insults, malice and slander. They want to listen to messages that would give them hope for the future and issues that affect their daily lives. We would like to hold our leaders accountable over their promises,” Mr Hikaumba said.