The University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union has rejected the payment of terminal benefits and contractual obligations owed to its members for over seven years on preconditions.

UNZALARU President Dr Evans Lampi also says Minister of Higher Education Professor Nkandu Luo’s assertions that unions are the ones holding up payment of gratuities to members of staff are misleading.

In statement, Thursday, Dr Lampi advised government to simply admit if it did not have money to pay lecturers their long outstanding payments instead of hiding behind outrageous and unpalatable preconditions.

“Members of the University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union have categorically rejected the paying of terminal and contractual obligations owed to them for over seven years based on preconditions. The assertion by the Minister of Higher Education, Professor Nkandu Luo, that University Unions are holding up the payment of gratuities and pensions owed to members of staff is misleading. This statement was part of the speech the minister made at the 2017 graduation ceremony. The truth of the matter is that the government through her ministry has come with preconditions to the release of the funds, thus changing goal posts from their pledge of 2017,” Dr Lampi stated.

“The most contentious precondition is to change or remove the internal pension scheme for gratuity. Others include, joint negotiations with government as opposed to the current method. The Unions have had three meetings with officials from the ministries of Higher Education, Finance and Labour in which these preconditions were made. Unions have objected to conditions being put on what is already being owed to retirees, widows and workers.”

And Dr Lampi charged that Ministry of Higher Education seemed to enjoy seeing the suffering of orphans, widows and other retired workers since the backlog of payments date as far back as 2010 which money he stated had completely lost value.

“Government in June 2017 pledged that these payments will be paid in 3 years starting in January 2018. All that needed to be done was to include the road map in the 2018 budget allocation, which was done to some extent. Next all we hear from the Minister of Higher Education is that the Unions at UNZA and CBU are blocking payments. This is completely misleading. If the Government does not have the money to pay these long outstanding payments then let them just say so, instead of hiding behind outrageous and unpalatable preconditions. It seems that the ministry seems to enjoy the suffering of orphans, widows, retirees and workers. Since the backlog of payments date as far back as 2010 the money owed has completely lost value. In conclusion we urge Government to simply start paying the overdue dues without preconditions,” stated Dr Lampi.