Representatives from various workers’ unions yesterday besieged Cabinet office demanding answers over their unpaid February salaries.

And Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) General Secretary Fray Michelo has written to Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary in charge of administration, demanded a prompt explanation from government on why the nurses and midwives had not yet been paid their February salaries.

Meanwhile, Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union (CSAWUZ) president Davies Chiyobe feared that further delays to pay civil servants their salaries would frustrate their efforts to serve efficiently.

Only civil servants from the teaching fraternity had received their February salaries as of March 5, much to the annoyance of the rest of public sector workers.

BUZ president Daniel Mwimbe, called News Diggers to express his displeasure, adding that he had sent his union Secretary General to join other union leaders who went to demand answers from the Public Service Management Division (PSMD) at Cabinet Office yesterday.

He said it was senseless for government to only pay teachers out of the numerous civil servants in the country.

“Government still hasn’t paid health workers! They pay a teacher and then they forget the most critical area which is health, who does that? Nurses and other civil servants have not yet been paid. We are very much concerned as trade unions, especially under health. So, I have sent my general secretary to Cabinet at PSMD to attend meeting with other secretary generals from other trade unions to find out the position of government because they are not giving their position up to now. We want to know what is happening. We can’t stay in suspense like this, people have been calling us to know when their salaries will be paid. The silence is just uncalled for!” Mwimbe said.

“We engaged Cabinet on Friday and all we were told was ‘everyone will be paid’ and we didn’t even know that they were going to start paying in phases like what they have done now. When we followed up on Monday they told us that they paid the teachers because they are the majority. But you cannot start paying people on majority basis, no, that is uncalled for and it doesn’t even make sense!”

And Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) General Secretary Fray Michelo has written to Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary in charge of administration, demanded a prompt explanation from government on why the nurses and midwives had not yet been paid their February salaries.

The Zambia Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) has received huge concerns over the delayed salaries for the month of February 2019, especially that other public service workers like teachers have been paid. Nurses and midwives being among the essential service workers deserve a prompt explanation so as not to interfere with health service provision in the country, but to serve and maintain harmony among nurses and midwives,” said Michelo in a statement, Tuesday.

“In view of the above, development, ZUNO demands that the Ministry of Health through your office should give an official statement on the delayed salaries as this is causing a lot of anxiety and panic among our members.

Meanwhile, speaking in a separate interview Chiyobe said the Servants and Allied Workers Union was concernedthat the delayed salaries may affect service delivery among workers.

“We are making frantic efforts as unions and after these salaries have been paid, we are not going to sit idle, but keep engaging the government to see how the salaries of civil servants should be put as a priority. It’s very important to pay salaries on time. Civil servants are the engine of government and you should expect frustrations and demotivation and anger whenever their salaries are not paid on time! So, my apeal to government is to consider, as business number one, the payment of salaries to the public workers because they are the ones who are the engines of government. Let them not vent their anger on their clients because an unpaid worker is frustrated and annoyed and they may not see anyone from government to vent their anger on, except their clients,” Chiyobe warned.

He, however, disclosed that unions had been assured that civil servants’ salaries would be settled by Wednesday, March 6, following a meeting with technocrats from Cabinet office.

“From our consultations, we have assurance that all civil servants will be paid tomorrow. Otherwise, payment of the teachers is just something that was done to see how best the salaries can be paid by way of managing on the monies coming in. It’s not necessarily by the one who is important, but it’s just a way of managing with limited resources. Even in the past you may have seen that health workers are paid first and teachers are not paid or police would be paid when others have not been paid. So, it’s just looking at the figure, which would have come and then government decides on which sector the figure could apply. Let’s say, for example, if a smaller figure had come and it could have accommodated a smaller cluster of the sector, then it could have paid. So, this is just the approach, which is being managed according to the figure that is available,” narrated Chiyobe.

“But otherwise, all of them by tomorrow (Wednesday) they will be paid so that this anxiety may not go on. But if by tomorrow they are not paid, we will still come back and be able to see and inform workers that maybe there are challenges here and there and this is why they are not able to pay, because we have assurances that they are going to pay everybody by tomorrow and if not early, maybe by the close of business today. We had meeting with Cabinet and we were assured that salaries will be paid tomorrow, but if it doesn’t happen tomorrow, then we will decide on the next course of action.”