We’re barely surviving, workers tell Lungu

WORKERS yesterday told President Edgar Lungu that they are struggling to make ends meet due to the escalating cost of living in the country.

The workers have urged Government to realise the seriousness of the problem and take urgent measures to mitigate the crisis.

Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Nkole Chishimba said the rising cost of living needed to be urgently addressed by Government because the country was headed for more difficult days for workers and other vulnerable people.

Mr Chishimba, who is also Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president, bemoaned the high levels of unemployment in the country.

“We are particularly concerned by the high unemployment levels which have deprived people, especially the youth, from earning a decent living. Unemployment is an evil and it takes away the dignity of an individual,” he said.

Mr Chishimba said it was ‘‘painful, frustrating and humiliating’’ for a parent to fail to provide for his or her family due to the high cost of living.

He said it was even more agonising for young people to continuously be confronted by unemployment even after obtaining college certificates, diplomas and degrees.

“High unemployment in this country has reached astronomical and alarming levels, and is being felt by all classes of people: the rich, the poor and the working poor. This is how severe the problem has become,” Mr Chishimba said.

He called upon Government to urgently find a permanent solution to the unemployment problems in order to address the current high poverty levels, hunger and social deprivation.

Mr Chishimba said it was imperative that if Government was to introduce austerity measures, such should not only affect workers and the poor but must be shared by all, including the rich.

He said it was frustrating that only a small fraction of the country’s population was paying taxes towards Government revenue and contributing to the country’s economic growth.

“The few workers in the formal economy have suffered heavy taxation because Government has lamentably failed over the years to cast the tax net wider to include the informal economy.

And Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) president Tyson Chisambo has attributed the high cost of doing business to high exchange rates in commercial banks.

Mr Chisambo appealed to President Lungu to intervene in the exchange rate in order to reduce the cost of doing business.

And Mr. Chisambo said frequent closures of higher institutions of learning should be addressed because tertiary education and training was critical to the country’s economy.

Mr Chisambo has implored students from higher learning institutions to be responsible for their actions.

He said students should find other means of engaging Government whenever they had grievances other than rioting.

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