Friday, October 05, 2007

Liato warns Pamodzi

Liato warns Pamodzi
By Lambwe Kachali
Friday October 05, 2007 [04:00]

Labour deputy minister Austin Liato has warned Taj Pamodzi Hotel that the law will visit them should they reduce workers’ conditions of service. Reacting to Pamodzi Hotel management that has defied the government’s directives not to downgrade conditions of service for its unionised employees, Liato said there was no Act under labour laws that allowed employers to reduce conditions of service for its workers.

“Our advice to Pamodzi Hotel’s general manager Mahipal Singh was clear and fair. If Singh is a good investor he should have listened at once. It’s like Singh wants to bring his own labour laws in Zambia.

We will not agree with him in any situation and he has to face the wrath of the law should he go ahead with the move,” Liato said. Liato said it was unfortunate that investors coming to Zambia were taking advantage of the peaceful investment atmosphere the country accorded them.

“The way Singh wants his business to flourish in Zambia, our citizens also want improved conditions of service. There is no country on earth where I have heard that the employer reduced employee benefits or any other conditions of service. I think Singh’s decision is wrong, indeed the first of its kind in Zambia and the world at large,” he said.

He said the government would not tolerate investors who defied the laws of the country.

“You see, we will have no option but to take action. It is clear that Singh is becoming arrogant. So, his arrogance will cost him. When we are calling for investors to invest in Zambia, we don’t mean they should start abusing our citizens. What is happening at Pamodzi is totally an abuse of workers. We have the reports that a conciliator has been appointed.

This is a serious matter and if it ßso happens that conditions of service for employees at Pamodzi Hotel are reduced, government will swing in with stiff action against the institution,” he said.

Liato said his ministry would monitor the happenings at the hotel to ensure that no employee was victimised.

“A group of officials from the ministry will soon be going to meet hotel management and the union. But should we get stories of victimisation, the punishment will be in accordance with the law. Enough is enough and what is remaining now is action,” said Liato.

Pamodzi Hotel management has declared a dispute against its employees over their refusal to have their conditions of service downgraded.

Among the conditions of services to be downgraded are retirement benefits, resignation benefits, medical and disablement discharge, basic salaries (no salary increment), leave allowances, funeral assistance and maternity allowance.

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