A non-governmental organisation has described calls, by Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) and other ten (10) unions representing the civil service, for protests against Government’s intended wage and recruitment freeze for 2 years as premature and misplaced.
Open Society Foundation executive director Sunday Chanda the calls were unfounded as there was no dispute yet and that such extremism and excitement by the labour movement should be condemned.
And Chanda has charged that ZCTU has fatigued leadership which has failed to protect worker’s interests.
He accused the union leaders of associating with wining and dinning with different government regimes at the expense of protecting interests of the working class.
The civic leader noted that there was need for the leadership to change its guard in the interest of protecting the workers in the country.
Chanda said Zambian should acknowledge that challenges and opportunities exist for government and also urged the labour movement to improve on its relations with government.
“Our call is that the existing adversarial nature of industrial relations in the country, and the threat this poses to the system of collective bargaining must be resolved as a matter of urgency.
Both Government and the labour movement must avoid measures causing a considerable dent in the economy, whose effects would be felt well into the future.
ZCTU is an example of a fatigued leadership which has failed to protect worker’s interests when it comes to that,” he said.
Chanda further charged that ZCTU was at its weakest because it was personalized and the leadership was failing to rise above parochial agendas.
He said ZCTU was expected to give viable alternatives to the over 50% wage bill instead of agitating for strikes and protests.
“ZCTU must answer whether Zambia’s revenue is capable of sustaining such levels of expenditure. ZCTU must know that Government has made strides in its efforts to resolve concerns related to structural distortions in the current salary structures in the public sector. ZCTU must instead be tracking the implementation of the 10-year Integrated Competitive Remuneration Strategy which was approved by Cabinet and agreed to by all Public Service Unions, which seeks to remove structural distortions for public workers in the three arms of Government,” he said.
The OSF director has since called upon government to ensure that policy measures were taken to protect the working class and vulnerable workers, while prioritizing the integration of work-seekers into the labour market, and ensuring decent work.
Meanwhile the government has called for a consultative meeting with the Zambia Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) and all the ten public service unions following calls for protests by ZCTU over the wage freeze and recruitment in the civil service.
Secretary to the Cabinet Roland Msiska said the meeting is scheduled for today, Monday, in the afternoon.
He said the state was shocked by calls for protests by some union leaders, adding that calls for protests were premature and unjustified as government has undertaken to resolve concerns related over structural distortions in the current salary structures in the public sector.
Finance Minister Alexander Chikwanda recently announced a two year wage and recruitment freeze in the public service from 2014-2015 when he unveiled the 2014 national budget.