Friday, March 07, 2008

Govt warns employers flouting laws

Govt warns employers flouting laws
By Maluba Jere
Friday March 07, 2008 [03:00]

LABOUR minister Ronald Mukuma has warned employers not to push the government too far by flouting labour laws in the country. Speaking when he conducted an on the spot check at Spur downtown shopping mall yesterday, Mukuma said the government would not condone bad practices being perpetrated by some employers.

“I decided to visit your company because my deputy minister as a normal practice came here and received some disturbing reports from the workers so I came to see whether there are improvements,” he said. “We don’t want a sour relationship with the government but don’t push us too far because we will react.”

Mukuma said the government was setting a higher target of economic development whose achievement would also depend on the contribution of the labour movement.
“The government is not amused with employers who flout labour laws and we expect them to cooperate without exception,” he said.

He also advised Spur management to desist from firing workers whenever it suited them, saying the normal standard was to issue a one month notice to any worker before taking such action.

He said the government was also against employing workers on a temporary basis because the trend prevented most of them from accessing facilities such as mortgages.
“You must treat your workers as partners in development, not tools. but I understand you are not following the collective agreements on issues such as overtime and others,” he said.

But Spur downtown general manager Collins Temba said it was not deliberate that people were employed on temporary basis, saying they just did not make it after their probation.“Out of 140 workers only 90 are permanent and others are on two months contracts,” he said. “Spur is here to stay and so the two-year contract was just a start, we are now adjusting according to the labour laws.”

Mukuma also toured Printeck Limited where he expressed happiness at the fact that most of the workers there were Zambian.

He said the government was concerned with industrial harmony and urged employers to embrace unions at places of work.

“Employers have a tendency of imposing decisions on workers but please make them understand why you have taken a certain stance,” he said. “The vision 2030 of becoming a middle income state will require high productivity and so if the labour market is constrained, then a lot of targets will not be met.”

And Printech managing director Hanif Ali told Mukuma that his company had employed close to a 100 workers on a permanent basis.

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