The three public universities have demanded a public apology from government saying it has shown the worst form of disregard for staff in the institutions of higher learning.
And the three public universities have expressed displeasure at government’s failure to show up at a meeting which was scheduled to discuss the dismantling of the huge debt that the universities owe staff in unpaid gratuities and statutory bodies such as NAPSA and Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA).
Speaking Mulungushi University town campus in Kabwe, on behalf of the University of Zambia (UNZA), Copperbelt University (CBU) and Mulungushi University, University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) President Dr Evans Lampi said government should know that disregarding unions is not in the best interest of the nation.
“The labour movement in the three public universities is deeply saddened by government’s desire to supress unionism in our universities. You might be aware that unions at CBU have been served with a notice of deregistration. This is a clear case of intimidation of unions and against the international labour organisation (ILO) protocols. It is evident that the desire by government is to create a union that is toothless and does not fight for the welfare of the membership,” Dr Lampi said.
He said the Labour Commissioner had exhibited high levels of disregard for unions and should be condemned in the strongest terms.
He pointed out that if government was concerned with creating a better Zambia, it should desist from using scare tactics and intimidation.
“The strategy of intimidation and scare tactics are not in the best interest of not only unionism but national dialogue as well. Government through the Labour Commissioner should immediately withdraw the letter written to CBU unreservedly. Government should be the first to show leadership and stop politicking on such important matters. Unions in these universities will not take kindly to intimidation and threats,” he said.
And the three public universities have expressed displeasure at government’s failure to show up at a meeting which was scheduled to discuss the dismantling of the huge debt that the universities owe statutory bodies such as NAPSA and Zambia revenue authority (ZRA).
“The three public Universities are in debt; owing staff gratuities and pensions, Government statutory bodies such as NAPSA and ZRA over K6 billion dating as far back as 2010. In August 2017, through the Ministry of Higher Education decided to clear the debt and later through a cabinet memo government set conditions for dismantling the debt. In December last year meetings were held involving the ministries of Finance, Higher Education and Labour and Social Security on the part of government and unions and management on the part of universities,” Dr Lampi said.
“In the Last meeting it was resolved that unions would consult with members and resume in January this year. ON January 15, the convener of the meeting, Ministry of Higher Education wrote to the unions that the meeting be held today at Mulungushi University in Kabwe. We are however, disappointed that after all the efforts to be here for the meeting, government has decided to stay away without any formal communication to us.”
He said what was more saddening was that government had been accusing the unions of delaying the process of dismantling the debt.
“As you might be aware, the unions have been accused of delaying the process of dismantling the debt. It is for this reason that we feel that government’s action to stay away from this meeting must be condemned in the strongest terms. It is not in our style to rush to the media when displeased. However, we feel it is very necessary that the nation knows that unions have spent money to come for this meeting knowing that it is a very important meeting. One only wonders why government has decided to take such a route,” said Dr Lampi.