ZAMBIA Manufacturers Association (ZMA) has urged Government to revisit labour laws as a result of the load-shedding which has affected the production in order to operate in the night as normal working hours.
ZAM president Roseta Mwape Chabala said there was need for both Government and sectors in the manufacturing industries to take advantage of the day light load-shedding by extending works to the night shifts which should not be considered as over time.
Ms. Mwape-Chabala said with the increased load shedding being experienced, the country was going to lose out hence the need to re-look the policy with the possibility of taking night shifts as normal shifts.
“I don’t think it is a good development to hear that load shedding will happen or will continue happening till the end of the year. Actually one of the meetings to discuss the continued load shedding is under way; we have not yet met because it has been tight but it was ZMA which was supposed to meet ZESCO and the Ministry of Energy possibly on the policy side and the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Labour who need to come in because you expect some sectors or companies not to have electricity during the day or not necessarily designed to produce in the night, we expect them to start productions in the night.
“You know that night shifts have a higher pay than day shifts and that is a policy issue where I think the Ministry of Labour should accept that a night shift becomes a normal shift. They must be a give and take in what we are doing in order to address the issues and the effect of load-shedding in Zambia,” Ms. Mwape-Chabala said. She said the country was facing a big electricity deficit challenge with ZESCO making it most difficult because of failure to stick to their planned programmes for load-shedding.
“The biggest problem now is that even if when we have a schedule, Zesco is not necessarily following the schedule, for instance they will tell you that electricity will go at six to about 14 but it will go either before that or after that which makes it difficult for some sectors to plan,” Ms. Mwape-Chabala said.
The ZMA president explained that companies that produce plastic for instance or bakeries were greatly affected as they lose out.
“If you are going to produce things like plastics or bread for example, if power goes out, it is a disaster for those companies. Even the equipment we have it doesn’t just start, we have to hit it for a long time,” she explained.
Ms. Mwape-Chabala said with such problems, Government would continue losing huge sums of money in revenue.