INVESTORS coming into the country with the intention of creating quality and decent jobs that are sustainable will be supported, the Zambia Congress of Trade of Unions (ZCTU) president Chishimba Nkole has said.
Mr Nkole, who is also Mine-workers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president, said it was worrisome that the mining sector which was considered to be a stable industry was creating less and less employment opportunities than what other sectors such as agriculture were doing.
He was speaking in an interview at Hotel Edinburgh in Kitwe on Saturday after he officially opened the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) workshop whose theme was; “Promoting International Labour Standards Towards Sustainable Social Dialogue at Workplaces in Zambia”.
“Education is key. Therefore let us improve our allocation to build our capacities on best practices, stepping up efforts of educating leaders and workers at all levels because solidarity can only be strong when we have informed workers.
“The ZCTU is ever willing to work with all well-meaning investors coming into the country as long as they are geared to create quality and decent jobs so that sustainable employment is achieved other than the current spate of casual jobs,” Mr Nkole said.
He said ZCTU would prioritize the commitment of empowering the leadership of all the affiliate unions with necessary information and skills as it sharpens its negotiations in protecting and defending workers’ rights.
“We are motivated by the fact that, as leaders from national unions, we are geared to rise up to the challenges to ensure that the labour movement attained the goal of ‘Promoting International Labour Standards Towards Sustainable Social Dialogue at Workplaces in Zambia’.
“This theme also underpins the need for us to support all policies for Government to create appropriate legislation that will check the influx of expatriates who come in the country to take up common jobs. Though this is sometimes connected to productivity issues, we are equally concerned with this aspect in the sense that we cannot be blinded to the fact that only Government policy can address this issue,” Mr Nkole said.
He said progress had been made in some pieces of labour laws such as the Employment Act amendment of section 36 which talks of the employers’ obligation to give reasons for terminating employment.
Mr Nkole, however, said that was the tip of an iceberg of how much could have been achieved had the Government fully applied itself to the political will because, as workers, they had done their part.
“Parliament will be dissolved in May and their performance will be judged by how much has been achieved in five years of high expectations from the workers. We therefore urge Government to complete the process of new labour law amendments before the end of their tenure.”
“It is one thing to ratify and domesticate all the international fundamental principles and rights at work, but it is just another thing to implement and apply these instruments to practical situations affecting negatively our Zambian workers,” he said.