PRESS STATEMENT BY THE ZAMBIA FEDERATION OF EMPLOYERS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MR HARRINGTON CHIBANDA ON THE RECENT INDUSTRIAL UNREST IN THE COUNTRY. TUESDAY, 19TH OCTOBER 2021

 

 

PRESS STATEMENT BY THE ZAMBIA FEDERATION OF EMPLOYERS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, MR HARRINGTON CHIBANDA ON THE RECENT INDUSTRIAL UNREST IN THE COUNTRY.  TUESDAY, 19TH OCTOBER 2021

THE ZAMBIA FEDERATION OF EMPLOYERS (ZFE) IS CONCERNED WITH THE RECENT HAPPENINGS ON THE LABOUR MARKET AS THERE HAVE BEEN SOME ILLEGAL WORK STOPPAGES IN SOME COMPANIES WITH THE RECENT ONE HAVING BEEN RECORDED AT MANSA SUGAR COMPANY WHERE EMPLOYEES WERE DEMANDING FOR SALARY INCREMENTS.

WE WISH TO ADVISE OUR WORKERS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY TO ALWAYS FOLLOW THE LEGAL PROCESSES OF AIRING GRIEVANCES ESPECIALLY WHEN IT CONCERNS DEMANDS FOR WAGE INCREMENTS. FOR UNIONS EMPLOYEES THE RIGHT AND LEGAL PROCEDURE IS TO ENGAGE MANAGEMENT THROUGH THE BARGAIN UNIT WHICH IS A UNIT REPRESENTING WORKERS BY THEIR UNION REPRESENTATIVES AND MANAGEMENT REPRESENTATIVES THROUGH WHICH CONCERNS ARE TABLED AND DISCUSSED TO REACH AGREEMENTS IN AN AMICABLE MANNER WHILE PRODUCTION IS GOING ON SMOOTHLY.

IT IS THEREFORE, ILLEGAL AND TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE TO EMPLOYERS FOR SOME WORKERS TO JUST WAKE UP AND DECIDE TO WITHDRAW THEIR LABOUR ON ACCOUNT OF POOR CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT ESPECIALLY WHERE THERE ARE RUNNING COLLECTIVE AGREEMENTS INPLACE WHICH HAVE ALREADY SET WAGES AND OTHER CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT FOR THE LIFE OF THE COLLECTIVE AGGREMENT.

GIVEN THAT MOST COMPANIES OPERATE BUDGETS THAT RUN FROM JANUARY TO DECEMBER FINANCIAL YEAR, THIS COULD BE TIME FOR THE WORKERS’ REPRESENTATIVES THROUGH THE UNIONS TO START PRESENTING THEIR DEMANDS TO MANAGEMENT AND START ENGAGING IN WHAT WE CALL PRE-NEGOTIATION SESSIONS TO EXPLAIN TO EACH OTHER WHY CERTAIN CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT SHOULD BE IMPROVED UPON PRE-NEGOTIATION SESSIONS BETWEEN THE UNION REPRESENTATIVES AND THE MANAGEMENT WILL PROVIDE SOME VITAL INFORMATION TO MANAGEMENT THAT CAN BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT IN THE BUDGETING PROCESS FOR THE NEXT FINANCIAL YEAR.

SO OUR CALL ON WORKERS OUT THERE IS TO DESIST FROM ENGAGING IN UNLAWFUL WORK STOPPAGES AS SUCH ACTIONS ARE COUNTER PRODUCTION AND THEY MAY LEAD TO INDUSTRIAL DISHARMONY IN THE COUNTRY.

 

WE ARE ALSO MINDFUL THAT THERE IS A CATEGORY OF EMPLOYEES THAT ARE NOT UNIONISED AND SO HAVE NO UNION REPRESENTATION WHOSE WAGES AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE ARE DETERMINED THROUGH THE STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS ON MINIMUM WAGES WHICH WERE LAST REVISED IN SEPTEMBER 2018.

WHILE WE URGE THIS CATEGORY OF WORKERS TO BELONG TO SOME UNIONS WITHIN THEIR SECTORS, WE ALSO WISH TO INDICATE THAT BECAUSE OF THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC ON THE INDUSTRY OF WHICH THE MOST DEVASTATING IMPACT HAS BEEN A REDUCTION ON REVENUE STREAMS OF A NUMBER OF COMPANIES, THE TRIPARTITE CONSULTATIVE LABOUR COUNCIL DID NOT FIND IT APPROPRIATE TO THINK OF REVISING THE MINIMUM WAGES AS MOST COMPANIES HAVE FOUND THEMSELVES IN A SITUATION WHERE THEY HAVE BEEN REDUCING ON THEIR WORKFORCE SINCE 2019 WHEN COVID-19 STARTED RAVAGING THE INDUSTRY. SO OUR ENGAGEMENT IN THE TCLC BOARDED ON SAVING PEOPLE’S JOBS AS OPPOSED TO INCREASING MINIMUM WAGES AS WE THOUGHT THAT DOING SO WAS GOING TO FUEL JOB CUTS.

SO AS ZFE WE WISH TO REMIND OUR EMPLOYEES OUT THERE THAT COMPANIES HAVE NOT YET RECOVERED FROM THE NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND THIS RECOVERY WILL NOT TAKE PLACE OVER NIGHT AND SO WHEN WORKERS MAKE DEMANDS FOR INCREASED WAGES THEY SHOULD BE MINDFUL OF THE ABILITY BY EMPLOYERS TO PAY AND ALSO TO ENSURE THAT JOBS ARE SUSTAINED.

 

THANK YOU