Saturday, August 28, 2010

(STICKY) 1,669 Zamtel workers to lose jobs

COMMENT - It should by now be clear that the Rupiah Banda government and the MMD don't give a damn about workers and workers rights in Zambia. ZAMTEL should have been restructured, and should never have been privatized. Privatisation should be reversed, even without compensation for LAP Green. If they are already breaking promises, we should break our promises to them.

1,669 Zamtel workers to lose jobs
By Darious Kapembwa in Kitwe
Fri 27 Aug. 2010, 11:00 CAT

ZAMBIA Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Roy Mwaba has disclosed that Lap Green, the new owner of Zamtel, will only retain about 731 workers on three months contracts out of the 2,400 workers retrenched. In an interview yesterday, Mwaba said Lap Green had gone against the agreement it signed with the government to create jobs and make Zamtel viable.

Mwaba also revealed that Lap Green had refused to sign the recognition agreement with the Uganda communications union since they bought a telecommunications company in that country in 2002.

“It is very unfortunate that these people have gone against the promises they made when they were buying Zamtel. Can you imagine out 2,431 workers they retrenched, they have only contacted about 731 and they are only engaging them on 90 days contracts to assess their performances which means after this period there will be more retrenchments,” Mwaba said.

“They promised more jobs and to make Zamtel more viable, that is what made some of us very excited but I can assure that we have already started measures to ensure that this matter is handled carefully to protect the interests of the workers to avoid what is happening in Uganda where Lap Green bought a telecommunications company and disregarded labour laws.”

Mwaba said his team travelled to Uganda and their investigations revealed that Lap Green had refused to sign the recognition agreement with the communications union in that country since 2002.

He feared the trend might come to Zambia because the company had already retrenched all union branch officials in all towns where the National Union of Communication and Industrial Workers had presence.

Mwaba said only the president and the trustee of the communications union had been retained in order to weaken the union’s voice in the company’s operations.

And NUCIW general secretary Clement Kasonde said retrenchments at Zamtel were conditional redundancies and not compulsory.

He said the retrenchment exercise runs up to August 31, 2010 and that everyone, including those that would remain at Zamtel, would have been paid by that date.

“By the end of August, about 2,400 will have received their retrenchment packages. As a union, we want to know how the retrenchment exercise is being implemented,” he said.

Kasonde said his union wanted to ensure that the retrenchment was done in accordance with fair labour practices.

“The union has to ensure that the exercise is credible, transparent and in line with laws. The union has taken cognisance that there is recognition and collective agreement which needs to be respected as we undertake to implement retrenchment exercise,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mwaba urged the government to engage unions before signing anything with investors coming into the country.

He cited the recent outsourcing problems at Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) as an issue that arose from the government’s failure to involve the mineworkers union.

Mwaba appealed to the government to conduct thorough investigations into the organisation and operations of Brazi’s Vale Mining Company, which he said had a record of disregarding labour laws in the countries they invested in.

Mwaba said ZCTU believed that the government was leaving the unions out of negotiations with investors because they had something to hide.

“From now onwards there should be nothing to agree on with the so-called investors without the involvement of the labour movement, they leave the unions because they have something to hide, because we just heard the head of state talking about Vale. Investigations have to be done with MUZ fully involved otherwise there would be no deal for Vale,” said Mwaba.

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