Thursday, March 01, 2007

Trade unions unsettle Government

Trade unions unsettle Government
By Times Reporter

GOVERNMENT is dismayed by the proliferation of trade unions, which it says poses a serious challenge to employers and the State. Labour and Social Services Minister Ronald Mukuma said in Lusaka yesterday that the proliferation of unions had led to complaints from employers that they were spending too much time and money bargaining with different unions in the same establishment. “In some cases, there are frictions among the unions in one industry which works against the interest of the workers,” he said. He said this when he officiated at the tripartite consultative labour council meeting in Lusaka yesterday.

Mr Mukuma said the proliferation of trade unions was not in conformity with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) principle of dealing with the most representative body. His ministry had issued directives to employers to engage in collective bargaining only with the most representative unions in their sectors to foster national development. He said trade unions should ensure they elected union representatives whose area of operations was directly related to the aspirations of their union. Mr Mukuma said he was saddened by the failure of some trade unions to submit audited books of accounts to the Labour Commissioner. He directed that the Labour Commissioner should follow up such unions and ensure the law was strictly adhered to.

The consultative meeting was tasked to review labour laws and come up with legislation that would be able to effectively deal with casualisation, labour broking and short-term job contracts. The minister urged participants to deliberate objectively and without advancing partisan issues.

Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) president Danny Musenge said since Zambia was a signatory to many international conventions, it was important it adhered to the requirements of such conventions.

Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Leonard Hikaumba said there was need for employers to stop violating workers’ rights. To this effect, he said the council meeting was important so that it could address most of the issues regarding violations of workers’ rights.
He commended Government for reducing Pay-As-You-Earn and broadening the tax base in this year’s Budget. “At least an effort was made. We are not saying we are satisfied with the move but it’s a move we have recognised. Our appeal is that the burden should be taken off the workers,” Mr Hikaumba said. Mr Hikaumba said the union was still concerned about the conditions of service for Government workers who had sacrificed a lot during the time that the country was making strides to reach the Highly Indebted Poor Countries’ (HIPC) completion point. The workers were further subjected to a wage freeze in the years 1998 and 2004. Mr Hikaumba said time was now ripe for the workers to be awarded improved conditions of service. And the Zambia United Local Authorities Workers Union (ZULAWU) has called on the Ministry of Local Government and Housing to speed up arrangements for the tripartite meeting with the Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ) to address conditions of service for employees in local authorities.

ZULAWU deputy general secretary Amon Daka said following the directive by Local Government and Housing Minister Syliva Masebo to the union and LGAZ to prepare for the meeting, the two parties were ready. Mr Daka said in an interview in Ndola yesterday that ZULAWU had already made submissions to the Government.



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home