… fuel shortage averted
The preference for foreign fuel transporters at the expense of Zambian companies is at the heart of the current tanker drivers’ crisis.
But for now the Tanker Drivers and Allied Workers Union have agreed to call off their strike that caused fuel shortages in many parts of Zambia following successful negotiations with the ministries of Energy and Labour.
Minister of Energy Dora Siliya and union general secretary Humphrey Kapesha confirmed the decision by the union and that offloading of fuel products by the drivers will resume this morning.
The drivers decided to go on strike after several oil marketing companies (OMC) breached contractual obligations by giving jobs to foreigners, a move that angered the local drivers.
Mr Kapesha said the union had also engaged Government over poor working conditions of drivers and were promised that the two parties would meet on December 31 last year but the meeting never materialized.
“We were being taken for granted and the members were losing patience. We were later told that the meeting had been deferred to January 4, 2016 but this also fell through,” Mr Kapesha said.
He said when Government postponed the meeting to January 18, the drivers resolved to go on strike to force Government to look into the plight as their poor working conditions and lack of contracts were affecting their families.
At a press briefing yesterday, Ms Siliya praised the union for agreeing to call off the strike and promised that the labour ministry will lead in tackling all issues raised by the drivers.
She said Zambia had lost a lot of money during the strike and urged the drivers to keep the economic wheels of the country running as the situation returned to normal today.
“We are grateful to you for quickly calling off the strike because the country was losing a lot of money. All efforts will be made to tackle all issues raised in the shortest time,” she said.
Labour minister Fackson Shamenda also praised the union but added that strikes should not be used in resolving issues affecting workers.
He urged the drivers to follow laid down procedures in addressing their problems.
Ms Siliya was this morning expected to meet with OMCs executives at 09.00 hours while another meeting has been planned for Monday.