Friday, April 13, 2007

Workers' go-slow cripples ZRA operations

Workers' go-slow cripples ZRA operations
By Fridah Zinyama in Lusaka and Jonathan Mukuka in Nakonde
Friday April 13, 2007 [04:00]

BUSINESS came to a standstill at Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) head office yesterday when unionised workers went on a countrywide go-slow following management's failure to meet their demands. And reports from border areas around the country revealed that many people were stranded as they waited to be cleared by customs officers. But by yesterday afternoon the workers resolved to resume work to pave way for negotiations. The workers resolved to go on a country-wide go-slow because management had shown an unwillingness to meet their demands.

ZRAWU general secretary Ronald Hatoongo said the workers were demanding an assurance from management that negotiations would meet their demands. "We want to have negotiations with management that show a spirit of give and take and a willingness to meet the workers demands," Hatoongo said.

He said the meetings that had been held by the workers' representatives and management were a mockery as they had not resolved any of their demands. "The workers are demanding to be addressed by the Commissioner General and they want commitment from management that they will meet their demands," Hatoongo said.

But addressing Lusaka based workers in the afternoon, ZRA Commissioner General Chriticles Mwansa appealed to them to return to work to allow management and the union to get back to the negotiating table.

Mwansa urged the workers to resume normal operations in order to pave way for further negotiations.

He appealed to the workers to exercise a spirit of give-and-take.
The workers then resolved to go back to work and gave management up to next Wednesday to finalise their negotiations.

They said if their needs were not met by Wednesday, they would go back to strike action.
ZRA spokesperson Matildah Tembo said senior and middle management personnel had been working during the go-slow but junior officers were not.

Some irate ZRA customers complained of being made to wait for long hours without being attended to during the go-slow by the workers.

One of the customers, James Banda said he had gone to the ZRA offices early in the morning to make payments but was turned away as the workers were not available.
He called on management to quickly address the workers' demands so that business could get back to normal.

And unionised workers in Nakonde yesterday joined their colleagues in the countrywide go-slow.

Northern Province permanent secretary Joel Ngo confirmed the go-slow in a telephone interview.

go said the unionized workers had joined the go-slow to press for improved conditions of service.

A check at ZRA offices in Nakonde revealed that the situation was bad as journalists were made to wait outside.

Only fuel tankers were cleared while other people were left unattended to.
Several customs officers were spotted in the customs Asycuda room chatting amongst themselves.

The workers have been demanding a salary increment of K700, 000 to K 1 million across the board for all workers and improvement of other working conditions.



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