By Bryan Chafwila
The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called on company owners to and employers to adhere to set rules and regulations that protects the well being of their workers.
Speaking at the official opening of the Grain and Meat Union of Zambia(GMUZ) Quadrennial Conference, ZCTU Secretary General, Cosmas Mukuka said employers have the duty to protect and promote the well being of their workers by ensuring that better wages, better working conditions and attractive emoluments were accorded to them.
Notwithstanding the obligation that employers have to ensure that workers are not exploited, Mr Mukuka observed that there was a correlation between a proper work culture and better conditions of service.
“There’s is a correlation between financial emoluments and a proper work culture. As much as we believe that employers are not supposed to exploit their workers by underpaying them, employees, too, have a duty to work hard and be paid for their services. We have noted that there are a number of companies which do not adhere to proper work standards. And we have also found companies in Zambia where we have tried to have many workers to join trade unions, but we have met various challenges in various ways. We call upon all employers in the country to create a conducive work environment for their workers,” he said.
Speaking at the same function, GRAMUZ Secretary General, Adon Mulala said there is need for workers to have security in their work places and that it was the sole responsibility of employers to put in place measures that enables workers to have a motivating work environment.
But he warned that the continued mushrooming of unions within unions in most companies, if not curtailed, would result in mudslinging as well as the weakening of the already existing trade unions.
“The vision that the combined unions have of ensuring better conditions of service for workers such as good salaries, a health working environment would help lift employees working standards and secure their jobs. The incoming GRAMUZ leadership should ensure that it fights for the good of the workers who are underpaid and overworked especially now that the Social Protection Bill for employees is being drafted, ” he said.
In explaining the challenges that the trade unions in the country is faced with, the GRAMUZ SG urged government and various trade unions in the country to make strides and explain the importance of public service bargaining to ensure that the trade unions in the country have a strong alliance so that workers could be motivated.
Zambia, like many other countries in the Sub-Sahara region has one of the worst safety conditions with most workers either working for the more than stipulated 11 hours, lacking the proper work gear or paid below the minimum wage which is K550 for domestic workers and K1,800 for formal workers as basic salary.
The event is an elective function which will see new GRAMUZ of bearers being ushered into office for the next four years.