Thursday, May 09, 2013

Govt builds team over minimum wage

By Martin Mashekwa in Kalomo
Wed 08 May 2013, 14:00 CAT

GOVERNMENT has constituted a technical team to look into the issue of the minimum wage bracket, which has received noncompliance by most employers who have opted for a 'take it or leave it option' for their employees, labour deputy minister Ronald Chitotela has disclosed.

Chitotela said the team was expected to come up with a 'sector-based minimum wage' taking into account the rate of turnover in each sector for the smooth implementation of workers' take home pay.

He said the government had listened to cries in various sectors over the implementation of the minimum wage in July last year, with the least-paid worker now expected to get not less than KR700.

And Chitotela said it is not political to force heads of government departments to understand the Patriotic Front (PF) manifesto, adding that it was justifiable to do so as policies to be implemented were in the framework of the ruling party.

He said this when he paid a courtesy call on Kalomo district administrative officer, Justus Phiri over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Chitotela has warned tobacco farmers in Kalomo not to allow children whose mothers are engaged in curing the crop in barns to be exposed to toxic substances, saying doing so would be an abrogation of the factories Act Chapter 441 of the Laws of Zambia.

Chitotela sounded the warning when he inspected a local farm where he found children with their mother working in tobacco barns.

He also urged commercial farmers to ensure that they provide protective clothing to their employees for them not to be exposed to health risks.
Chitotela said this after an inspection of farm workers who were found in tobacco barns without protective gear against tobacco fumes.

In another development, a local tobacco farmer, Graham Mulders, urged the government to quickly find a solution to the closure of Collum Coal Mine as most tobacco farmers relied on the coal that was produced from that mine to cure tobacco instead of using wood as it contributed to rampant deforestation.

Chitotela was in Southern Province to check on compliance with labour laws by employers.

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