Salary disputes loom in councils

A salary dispute among district council workers is looming following Government’s  decision to amend  the Local Government Act to remove the provision  of grants from  Central Government, Zambia United Local Authority Workers Union (ZULAWU) president Misheck Nyambose says.

Government’s decision  to stop giving grants to district councils has resulted in local authorities reverting to old salaries after they were increased in November last year.

“The decision by Government to enact the Local Government Act No. 12 of 2014 means that the lowest council workers will be earning K800 instead of the K2, 600 per month which was agreed upon in November last year,” Mr Nyambose said.

In September 2014, ZULAWU and Government signed an agreement transferring the payment of salaries to the Government payroll system.

Minister of Local Government and Housing Dr John Phiri could not be reached for a comment as his phone went unanswered.

Mr Nyambose appealed to President Edgar Lungu to intervene, saying the situation was becoming a challenge to council workers.

He said the council workers were heartbroken with Government’s decision to enact the Local Government Act of 2014.

“We have appealed to the Head of State to intervene in the matter because the situation is becoming very challenging. The workers are living in suspense as to what is happening to them,” he said.

Mr Nyambose said it was unacceptable that Government decided to amend the Local Government Act which provided for the allocation of grants to district councils such as salary grants, fire services grants, grant in lieu of rates, restricting grants, and water and sanitation grants among other services, without consulting the stakeholders

Lusaka deputy mayor Portipher Tembo said he could not confirm whether his council was also affected because Government has not written to the council notifying them about the changes.

And Mr Tembo said the Government grant was helping the council to survive, adding that it had been difficult for them to collect tax and meet their financial obligations.

“About Government stopping paying grants I cannot confirm because we have not been written to officially,” he said.

The deputy mayor said Government had remained committed to providing grants to the council, adding that last month the council received K8 million to pay off all the retirees who had not been paid their retirement dues and salaries.

Mr Tembo said the council was now up to date with paying salaries following the K8 million grant it received from Government.

He said the council has since started paying off the retirees, adding that once the grant was exhausted, the council would revert to its old system of paying them K10, 000 every Friday in order to sustain their daily needs.

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