Farm workers have won new conditions of service following the signing of a collective agreement between the Zambia Farm Employers’ Association (ZFEA) and its social partners-National Union for Plantation, Agricultural and Allied Workers (NUPAAW) and the Grains and Meat Workers Union of Zambia (GRAMUZ) .
The collective agreement will cover all conditions of service except for wages whose negotiations were scheduled to start before the end of last month.
According to the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) bulletin, the agreement which came into effect on 1st August, 2015, would remain binding for the next three years.
The main changes to the collective agreement include an adjustment in retirement and minimum gratuity benefits as well as inflationary increases in funeral and medical assistance, and subsistence and tools allowances.
Meanwhile, the ZNFU has observed that long hours of electricity load shedding coupled with increased fuel prices are likely to have a negative impact on the poultry industry.
The poultry industry which has already suffered increased input costs over the last six months is expected to suffer even more if the current conditions persist.
“While industry players are making efforts of investing in alternative sources of power such as the use of generators, the increased fuel prices make this alternative even more costly.
As is always the case when input costs rise, players in the industry may watch rising fuel costs diminish their overall profit margin or may transfer this cost to consumers which will lead to an overall increase in the cost of poultry products,” reads the bulletin.
The ZNFU noted that small-scale poultry farmers are the most seriously hit among the farmers as they were not able to raise funds to find alternative sources of energy rather than Zesco power.
“Small scale poultry growers are the most vulnerable in the industry because most of them cannot afford alternative sources of power. Due to this, power outages are expected to lead to losses especially during the first days where brooding and lighting are critical for poultry growing,” reads the bulletin.
The ZNFU said it expected the price of poultry stock feeds to rise even further owing to erratic power supply which has compounded the problem due to the already high input costs that farmers were incurring.