Employment amendment bill ambiguous



The proposed Employment Amendment law should specify the period of graduation from fixed term contract to permanent contract in order to take care of the non-unionized workers, the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has said.

Last week, Labour Minister Fackson Shamenda tabled before Parliament the Employment

Amendment Bill to curb the vice of casualization and the arbitrary termination of contracts without giving reasons.

Consequently, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Mukondo Lungu referred the Bill to the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs, Energy and Labour.

ZCTU secretary general Cosmas Mukuka said when he appeared before the committee that section 28 c of the Bill should clearly indicate the type of employees were being addressed and also state at which point they may be deemed to be permanent employees.

“The terms ‘Short Term Contract’ and ‘Fixed Term Contract’ has been contextualized clearly in relation to the duration of six months to

one year after which the job becomes fixed,” he said.

Mr Mukuka wondered why section 28C part 1 and 2 related to workers who were not unionized when the issue of “permanent in nature” was subject

to a lot of interpretation.

He said part 3 and 4 was quite clear for it spelled out that professionals and technicians could negotiate their duration of contract of service while those represented by unions would have their representatives to set their conditions of service in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

And Mr Mukuka said calculations of hours of work for part time work should be on the basis of weekly and monthly.

He said there should be proof that such a worker was engaged in similar employment arrangements elsewhere.

“Realizing that the bill is aimed at ending casualisation, calculations of hours of work should not point to yearly basis but to strict situations of weekly and monthly and proof that such a person engaged on part time is also occupied in similar employment elsewhere,” he said.

Mr Mukuka also expressed concern that in 12A the term “flexibalisation” could not be classified as casual because it was subject to abuse by employers and had the potential of encouraging casualization, which was part of the reason the Employment Amendment Bill was being revised.

And Committee chairman Garry Nkombo said the concerns raised by the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions were genuine.

Mr Nkombo, who is also Mazabuka Central Member of Parliament, asked whether ZCTU was consulted by the Ministry of Justice during the formulation of the Bill to which Mr Mukuka responded in the negative.