WORKERS at Lusaka Hotel have gone seven months without being paid.
And Business Development Manager Chazya Sinkamba says the hotel has been experiencing a number of challenges since 2016.
In an interview, workers who sought anonymity said some workers were sent away on forced leave without pay.
“From November last year, we have not been paid and they are not telling us anything. Some workers were sent on forced leave and they are not being paid. How do they expect us to survive with an economy as bad as this one? We have families that depend on us, children that are not going to school and we can’t afford three meals in a day. Things are not okay at this Hotel,” lamented the workers.
But Sinkamba said it would be premature to say when the workers would be paid
“Since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic started, we were able to see that movements was restricted on health grounds so what transpired was that most hotels and lodges were closing down. And literally, there was no business. And if you recall, there was a lockdown in Kafue and therefore, that necessitated the manner in which we were going to operate. So to protect our staff in terms of their own health, we had to send staff on leave and that is paid leave. Also, as a company, it was an opportunity to give people time to rest. If you look at the business that we are in, the leisure sector, I think it was one of the worst hit because people are not having functions and I think the technological advancement in people meeting from Zoom means that there is no necessity for people to meet,” lamented Sinkamba.
“And I think that is why arrears have accumulated. The hotel has been experiencing quite a number of challenges over the years starting from 2016 to date. It has been accumulating quite a number of debts because of increased competition. The Hotel was in need of recapitalization and for us to give a business case to the bank to say ‘give us US$3 million’ it must be backed by a practical revenue stream. Given the circumstances, we are doing our best to keep our employees. Right now, we are exploring opportunities, including banks and possibly finding a business partner that can help us recapitalize. It is not a matter of deliberate policy where the company is making money and you are not paying your staff. It is a situation where there is zero income coming in because there are no meting and functions. And to give you a timeframe when they will be paid, I think it will be premature for me to say.”