Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Reporting late for work
By Editor
Thu 16 Jan. 2014, 14:00 CAT

Siavonga district commissioner Brave Mweetwa bravely accuses civil servants that report for work of theft. A legal charge of theft against such civil servants may not stand, but a moral one will certainly succeed.

It is immoral, dishonest to accept to be paid or even to claim to be paid for work one has not done, for the hours or days one has not worked. But many people in this country, not only civil servants, get paid for hours they have not worked, for work they have not done.
Most of our work contracts generally require one to work eight hours per working day. How many of us can honestly claim to be putting in eight full hours of work every day?

Of course, there is latecoming. But the story does not end here because at the other side there is also leaving work early. We have people who report late for work and also leave early. There are also some who, although they don't physically leave early by 16:00 hours, have stopped working and everything that comes in is pushed to tomorrow. They spend the last hour or so packing and talking on the phone or sending SMSs or Internet messages.

In between the morning and the afternoon, the lunch hour is prolonged. Instead of leaving for lunch at 13:00 hours, they leave for lunch long before that. And instead of coming back from lunch at 14:00 hours, they report for work long after that. One wonders how many hours most of us really work. Very few put in the eight hours every day but you will never hear anyone at the end of the month receiving less than the full pay for not having worked the full hours.

If anything, it's the lower factory workers who have to clock in time. It is them who are paid hourly wages and only for the hours they have worked. It is only them who really earn their wages. The top people don't clock in time; don't work the eight hours they are supposed to work every day.

While the poor workers have to account for their time and indeed for the work they are supposed to accomplish in that time, most of us don't do so, get away with not working.

While the poor workers don't have time to chat on the phone and don't use the Internet while working, the upper workers spend their working time surfing the Net, gossiping on Facebook and other networks or platforms, but still get the same pay as if they have worked the full hours. Some even go shopping for groceries during working hours or during lunch and come very late in the afternoon, but still get paid all their dues as if they had worked the full hours.

They even have time to go to the bank to withdraw money during working hours. Some of them even go to the hair salons during working hours, but still get paid.

When they come late for work, they can give the simple reason of traffic congestion or car breakdown and no one questions that; it is accepted as a given. They don't lose any of their earnings for coming late. But for a humble worker, there is no issue of traffic congestion or minibus breakdown. One is simply locked out of the factory if they are late or if they are allowed in, they are only paid for the hours actually worked.

And the issue does not stop at workers only. The leaders do the same. We have ministers who are on full-time state employment but spend most of their time attending to their own private matters or businesses. Very few of them put in the required number of hours per day. They use the talk time given to them by the government for personal business.

The government automobiles given to them are used, at a huge cost to the taxpayer, for personal matters. And on top of this, at the end of the month - whether they work or they don't work the full hours - they get the full pay and perks.

This is banditry! This is theft! And Mweetwa is right in referring to such people as thieves because they are stealing from their employers, from the Zambian taxpayer. Each one of us should be paid according to the work we put in - the measure you put in should be the measure you receive.

We want work but when work is given to us we don't want to work, we simply want to malinger around. What we forget is that if we don't work, we are simply surviving on the work being done by others. If your workmate is not putting in the full working hours, it means that you who is putting in full-time is subsidizing them, you are working for them and it's you who is paying them. Is this fair? Is this acceptable? Do you want to work for others who are able to work but do not want to do so and yet at the end of the month they earn the same salary with you?

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