Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general Cosmas Mukuka says foreign investors have no regard for the country’s labour laws because government begs and treats them like darlings when asking for their investment.
Speaking to News Diggers in an interview ahead of today’s Labour Day commemorations, Mukuka said most of the foreign investors were coming into the country with various agendas and were exploiting Zambian workers without any regard for labour laws.
“There is a realisation that there is a deficit of decent work in the country. The reason is that the multi nationals who have come to Zambia have got a different agenda. They are not looking at certain jobs to be decent. Most of our companies in Zambia were privatised and before they were privatised, people were getting decent jobs. Suddenly, that has gone out because these companies now are at the hands of the investors who have ignored the plight of the Zambian workers. That’s why today you’d find that the jobs in the private sector are not viewed as decent jobs. But why is this so? It’s because investors are maximizing profit at the expense of Zambians. Apart from that, they are evading tax. Meaning that Zambia is losing out on two fronts, that is tax and citizens missing out. Instead of citizens getting the proper share of the companies which we privatize, the jobs are not decent,” Mukuka complained.
“Today, the kind of jobs which were looked upon as inferior jobs have actually emerged as the jobs that people are looking to. Right now, one would even opt to resign from a private company and go to college and become a nurse or a teacher. That’s what is happening now. Each time they call for recruitment of nurses, teachers, we have seen that there are a lot of applications from people. Like there was an advert for the teachers recently, where they just wanted to recruit two thousand teachers, but the applications were about 25 thousand. All of this means that these people can’t secure jobs in the private sector because the private sector is not providing jobs.”
And Mukuka charged that most of the foreign investors were so arrogant to Zambians because government usually presented itself as a beggar when asking them to invest in the country.
He asked government to come up with proper pronouncements for foreigners wishing to invest in the country so that they could be introduced to the laws which are supposed to be followed.
“At the time of signing contractual agreements, it appears when the investors come to invest in Zambia, we do not introduce them to our laws which are supposed to be followed. What we are interested in is just to sign our investment agreements and establish them quickly and start seeing development on the other hand without showing them the other window of labour laws. I think that’s where there is a mismatch. And the other thing is that when they are coming, we plead for them too much. When you plead for them and you subject yourself to be a beggar, they become arrogant because you haven’t given them matching orders and you are pleading with them as a darling. So that way you cannot again show them a window to say there is another window of labour laws and tell them to start following those labour laws. So they are arrogant and that’s why they could even embarrass the Labour Commissioner like what we saw in Kabwe. That just meant that whoever brought that Chinese never showed them the correct picture,” said Mukuka.
“But as workers, we have prepared speeches which have to be heard and your role now as media is to make sure that you continue putting on record, our cries as labour workers. It may be useless to celebrate this day but there is a very important message we are communicating.”
Meanwhile, Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia (FFTUZ) president Chingati Msiska noted in a statement that the 2018 labour day theme ‘building partnerships for sustainable national development through decent job creation and social justice’, was a serious reminder of the gaps that still existed in ensuring that decent work was made available for people on the Zambian labour market.
“Our interpretation of this year’s theme is that in order to fully develop our nation, all the stakeholders involved in our national affairs need to work together towards one purposeful agenda. Employees alike need to increase their work efforts for increased productivity and the employers need to ensure that there are opportunities for work that is productive and delivers a fair income, security in the workplace and social protection for families, better prospects for personal development and social integration. As a labour movement, we are primarily focused on ensuring that our members have access to decent conditions of service for their labour. This in turn also compels us to implore upon our members to equally work hard and contribute to the overall growth of the national economy. We have a collective responsibility as employers and employees alike, to help grow our national economy,” stated Msiska.
“As a labour movement, our expectations from this year’s theme are that as a country, we need to fully implement the decent work agenda. It is regrettable that this has been reduced to mere rhetoric and many workers in this country are still subjected to poor working conditions. in order to ensure sustainable national economic growth and reduce poverty, it is imperative and inevitable that we have to create full and productive employment and decent work for all. there is also need to ensure that there structures as well as legislation governing labour in the country are recognized and respected by all the stakeholders.”