THE Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) has described as illegal the work stoppage by the Copperbelt University Academic Union (CBUAU) and their demand to have the Vice Chancellor and his entire management team dismissed from the institution.
Zambia Federation of Employers president Tyson Chisambo said the demand by the lecturers’ union to have the university management disbanded was in breach of the Industrial and Labour Relations Act and that the strike action did not form part of the collective agreement on which the union was mandated to engage their employers.
Mr Chiambo said the university employees’ action was in blatant disregard of the fundamental principle of the employment relationship and it was therefore out of the legal provision of the labour laws for the employees to dictate to the employer how the institution was supposed to be managed.
He said in a statement yesterday that the federation strongly condemned the illegal work stoppage by CBU workers and that Higher Education Minister Michael Kaingu was in order to protect Government from being blackmailed and arm-twisted by the academicians.
Mr Chasambo said the university as one of the highest institutions of learning had a critical role to play in the provision of skills to the labour market from which the federation was benefiting.
He stated that ZFE was gravely disappointed that it was barely two months from the time the university was closed due to another illegal strike, the workers were yet again protesting against their management.
He said the federation was deeply concerned that because of the illegal strikes by the university workers, students had become victims of severe reaction from the police for peacefully protesting against the instability at the institution.
“The Zambia Federation of Employers is concerned with the illegal go-slow action by the Copperbelt University workers . The employees’ demand to have the Vice-Chancellor and his management team removed is an illegal demand as it breaches the Industrial Labour Relations Act.
‘‘The strike action does not form part of the collective agreement issues on which the union is mandated to engage their employers. This is because the union is acting in blatant disregard of a fundamental principle of the employment relationship,” Mr Chisambo said.
He stated that the university staff and their union representatives had not showed that their work stoppage was legal under the labour laws of the country.
“Terming it a go-slow does not disguise the action from its real name of an illegal strike. As they are aware, an illegal strike renders employees subject to justifiable disciplinary consequences including dismissal,” Mr Chasambo said.
He said it was unacceptable for the university workers and their union to attempt to hold students and the institution to ransom through their illegal strike, stating that by engaging in an illegal action, the university lecturers and staff had failed in their role of mentorship.
Mr Chisambo has urged the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia (FFTUZ) to provide leadership on the impasse between the Coppetrbelt University management and the workers.
“They ought to resume work unconditionally and follow the correct procedure for airing their grievances. We further call on the Government to be firm in dealing with this matter and ensure discipline is restored at the Copperbelt University,” Mr Chisambo said.