POST Newspaper workers have warned of a rebellion against their Editor in-chief and owner of the newspaper Fred M’membe for allegedly using their salaries to service the debts the company has accrued by neglecting to meet its tax obligations over a number of years and investing in other ventures
And the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has charged that it is a breach of the labour laws for The Post Newspaper to subordinate the salaries of its workers to the debts the company has accrued as a result of neglecting its tax obligation.
A search at the court has revealed that in December last year, Post Newspaper general manager Rowena Zulu told the Lusaka High Court that the newspaper had entered into an arrangement with its employees in which their salaries were subordinated to the debt owed to the Zambia Revenue Authority.
But the workers talked to said at no time did Mr M’membe ask them to enter into an arrangement to stop paying them their salaries so that they could be used to settle the company’s tax obligations.
ZCTU general secretary Cosmas Mukuka has charged that it is against labour laws for the Post Newspaper to have elected to punish its employees by failing to pay their salaries for over four months on account that the newspaper was servicing its debt with the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). The workers at the Post Newspaper are angry that Mr M’membe had over the years been using them to make money which they alleged had been invested in his agriculture businesses and political ambitions.
Some workers told the Daily Nation that they were getting robbed by the owner of the Post Newspaper which they have accused of using their salaries and the profits the newspaper was making to invest into political projects. They said they were aware that ZRA had told the High Court that Mr M’membe had invested a total of US$1.499 million into agriculture by procuring farm equipment such as a bull dozer, excavator, motor grader, logger, padfoot roller, agriculture tractor and a trailer, all of which were purchased in June, last year and yet they were not getting their salaries.
The workers have complained that Mr M’membe had in a communist manner and dictatorial characteristics imposed his decision to subordinate their salaries to the debts the Post Newspaper had accumulated.
The workers have denied ever having been consulted by Mr M’membe to stop paying them their salaries so that he could service his debts which the newspaper had accrued without their knowledge and consent.
“We have suffered a lot under the hands of the owner of the Post Newspaper and we are now going into four months without pay. He has used us, abused us and most likely will soon refuse us.
We have never entered into any agreement with him (M’membe) to stop paying us our salaries so that he could use our hard earned money to service his tax obligations. He is a man with socialist beliefs who dictates and imposes his will upon the workers and we cannot say anything. As you know, we do not have a union and anyone who agitates for anything like that gets fired and if we had anywhere to go, we would because we are being used and abused,” the workers complained.