Wednesday, March 06, 2013

FFTUZ opposes merger of unions

FFTUZ opposes merger of unions
By Isaac Zulu in Kapiri Mposhi
Wed 06 Mar. 2013, 14:00 CAT

FEDERATION of Free Trade Unions of Zambia President Joyce Nonde-Simukoko says she does not support the idea of merging unions to form one labour movement to represent workers in the country.

Nonde-Simukoko said the proposal for the amalgamation of trade unions was not the answer to the various challenges that the labour movement was facing.

There have been calls from some sections of society for unions in Zambia to merge in order to strengthen their voice in representing workers.

But speaking during the launch of the Crews and Allied Workers Union of Zambia (CRAWUZ) which is a splinter union from the Workers Union of TAZARA in Kapiri Mposhi on Monday, Nonde-Simukoko said there was no legal provision to support the calls.
She said that the Constitution allowed workers to belong and form unions of their choice.

She said trade unions were voluntary associations and were not competitors.
"Workers have constitutional right to belong to any union of their choice… it is not that because we have many unions that is making us fail to effectively represent our members but the selfishness in the leadership of some these unions and the lack of understanding of some of our members on why they belong to unions," Simukoko said. "Workers have the right to freedom of association.

Freedom of association is here to stay because this is a constitutional right. People are free to form and join unions of their own choice. This thing of saying 'one industry one union must come back will not go anywhere. It will never come back!"

She said there was need for the workers and union leaders to acquaint themselves with the country's labour laws for them to appreciate the role of trade unions.

CRAWUZ is affiliated to FFTUZ and, unlike WUTAZ which is an affiliate of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), has garnered membership from employees working in the railways industry in Zambia.

Meanwhile, Nonde-Simukoko challenged workers in the newly formed union to observe work place rules and regulations and work hard for them to rightly claim their entitlements.

She noted that it would not suffice for the workers to abrogate labour regulations and at the same time ask to be remunerated and their interests attended to by their respective railway companies.

"We need to change our work culture, to observe work ethics, not to neglect duty but to put in our best so that even as we bargain we will have a justification," Nonde-Simukoko said. "We shall not protect any worker who will be found intentionally breaking rules and regulations."

Nonde-Simukoko also bemoaned the delayed payment of salaries at TAZARA.
"Management, delayed payment of salaries should be a thing of the past," she said. "This delayed payment of salaries is a violation of workers' rights."
And CRAWUZ president Bevis Silumbwe said the workers resolved to branch off from WUTAZ to form their own union because of inadequate representation by their former union.

Silumbwe said WUTAZ failed to effectively represent the workers, resulting in TAZARA management to willfully exploit workers.
He said workers' salaries delay for months and most workers have faced unlawful suspensions, charges and threats of dismissals, issues that WUTAZ had failed to address.

"We wrote to ZCTU that WUTAZ has excessively failed to fight for the workers' plight which resulted in the management to introduce unfavourable conditions of service but to no avail, so we decided to proceed to the philosophy that if you can't beat them, you leave them… hence the formation of CRAWUZ and affiliating it to FFTUZ which we feel will address our plight," Silumbwe said.

The union pledged to support and work with TAZARA management and government in finding lasting solutions to the challenges to the railway industry in Zambia.

The formation of CRAWUZ came into effect after the signing of a recognition agreement with TAZARA management last year.

And TAZARA operations manager Philimon Munthali noted that the common work stoppages at the railway company were counterproductive.
Munthali hoped the formation of another workers' union would lessen the work stoppages at TAZARA and engage management in resolving all labour related disputes amicably.

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