Friday, June 15, 2007
By Patson Chilemba
Friday June 15, 2007 [04:00]
OPPOSITION UPND president Hakainde Hichilema has said the ongoing go-slows by civil servants is a clear demonstration of lack of priority by those in leadership. And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) vice-president Sam Phiri said the go-slows werea result of government failing to meet its obligations.
Commenting on the go-slow by Judiciary workers and the recent go-slow by University of Zambia (UNZA) lecturers, workers at the Public Service Pensions Fund (PSPF) and the Copperbelt University (CBU) lecturers, Hichilema said the money that government intends to spend on unnecessary undertakings such as the referendum could be used to improve the working conditions of civil servants.
Hichilema said the delaying tactics by government especially on the issue of the constitution were denying other sectors the much-needed attention.
“It’s an opportunity cost we are paying. We are denying sectors that require help because we are not being optimal. We are very extravagant on issues. If we deal with the constitution, we shall be dealing with other issues,” Hichilema said. “The expenditures we are planning to use on the referendum, those should be applied to other areas such as remuneration.”
Hichilema said most problems affecting the nation were a demonstration of lack of priority by government.
“You don’t need enough intelligence to see that there is a problem,” Hichilema said. “We need to be looking at things like the mining sector so that it contributes effectively to the country’s development.”
And Phiri said government has failed to meet its obligations to the workers.
“Most of the problems affecting institutions like UNZA have been there for a long time, you can’t understand why government cannot take the bold step to address these problems. Government has failed to meet its obligations. They are aware of what workers want,” he said.
Phiri said there was no need for government to come up with a lame excuse that it had no money.
“Recently we had by-elections and there was no complaint about money, why can’t we also have what we need available to us?” he asked.
Phiri further accused UNZA management of provoking the go-slow by lecturers.
“As ZCTU, we attended a meeting where a technical committee made of lecturers and management and we hoped something would come up,” Phiri said. “The information we are getting is that management has been dilly-dallying. They have not released the kind of information the technical committee was supposed to be served with regarding the income and how they have expended the money.”
Phiri reminded government that good governance involved meeting workers’ demands.
Recently, workers in some government institutions have resorted to go-slows demanding improvements in the conditions of service.
Some affected institutions include UNZA, PSFP, CBU and the judiciary.