The Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has warned government of strike action if salary negotiation talks are unnecessarily prolonged.
ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba has since accused government of dragging the negotiations to achieve the wage freeze imposed on all public workers in the 2014 national budget.
“We hope that the government is not delaying the negotiations to achieve what they had planned in the budget. The wage freeze was approved because there was no alteration to the issue of the wage freeze,” he said.
Mr Hikaumba said there was need to urgently address all the issues affecting workers to avoid labour unrest in the country.
“We want all the issues that affect workers especially decisions which are supposed to be made should be done through a process of consultation or through collective bargaining,” he said.
He said there was need to avoid dictating issues affecting the workers through introduction of unfavorable policies.
“We do not want to see a situation where employers will simply dictate the terms of conditions, policies that affect the workers, because that is against the principles that govern industrial relations.
“When the government announced that there was going to be a wage freeze for two years and the freeze on employment, we opposed that move, especially the issue of the wage freeze because it directly affects the process of collective bargaining. For any such measure to be put in place, it requires that there is a discussion before the decision is made,” Mr Hikaumba said.
He said there appeared to be no significant progress being made in the bargaining process.
“We want to appeal that these negotiations should be concluded as early as possible because the collective agreements expired a long time ago and they have been renewed two or three times, and our expectation is that the negotiations will not drag for such a long time,” Hikaumba said.
“We don’t want negotiations which are going to drag and maybe end up in a stalemate and then it may even incite workers to go on strike,” said Hikaumba.