The Copperbelt University Stakeholders’ Union says the Ministry of Labour and Social security should rescind its decision to terminate the recognition agreement between UNZA and UNZALARU because it has left workers destitute.

In a statement signed by chairperson of the CBU stakeholders’ union Dr Derrick Ntalasha, Tuesday, the Ministry of Labour had violated the law.

“We would like to state that what the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has done is a violation of section 5 of the industrial and Labour Relations ACT cap 269 of the laws of Zambia and the ILO convention number 87 to which Zambia is a signatory. These pieces of legislation give workers the rights to belong to a trade union of their choice and having representation. Therefore, revoking UNZALARU’s recognition agreement violates the rights of the employees represented by UNZALARU. Revocation of UNZALARU recognition agreement leaves university workers to wonder as to whether they have a ministry that represents their interests,” Dr Ntalasha stated.

“It is clear now that workers have been left destitute as Ministry of Labour and Social Security seems to side more with employers and not employees whenever injustices are perpetrated by employers. Therefore, we urge Ministry of Labour and Social Security and UNZA management to be magnanimous enough and rescind their decision and engage in meaningful dialogue that will address the problems leading to the impasse and create better working environment. Revoking UNZALARU’s recognition agreement is not the solution to paying salaries on time. We need solutions and not intimidation.”

Dr Ntalasha stated that the revocation was not done in good faith.

“The Copperbelt University Stakeholders Union would like to condemn in the strongest terms the Ministry of Labour and Social security’s approval of the University of Zambia Management’s application to terminate the recognition agreement between themselves and the University of Zambia Lecturers’ and Researchers’ Union (UNZALARU). The unions believe that the decision revoke the recognition agreement was not done in good faith as it is a harsh decision considering that the reasons leading to the impasse in our public higher learning institutions such as perpetual salary delays, unpaid gratuities, erratic government funding etc, have not been addressed at all in the process,” Dr Ntalasha stated.

He wondered why the ministry was quick to condemn employees when they protested against labor injustices.

“University councils owe public university staff huge sums of money in unpaid gratuities, pension and NAPSA contributions. These have remained unpaid for far too long. Further, the government is failing to release the grants to universities on time to enable them pay salaries to workers on time. Employees have suffered injustices for too long at the hands of university councils and Ministry of Labor and Social security has only been reactive and not proactive when it comes to handling injustices,” lamented Dr Ntalasha.

“For instance, university councils have continually abrogated with impunity, section 66 subsection (2) of the employment code act of 2019 which provides that “the wages of an employee shall be paid at regular intervals not being later than the 5th day following the date upon which they fall.” Alas, in some cases workers have gone 2-3 weeks salary delays whilst the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has done very little if not nothing at all to bring the employers to book. However, when employees protest these labor injustices, Ministry of Labour is quick to condemn the workers. This is unfair! The Ministry of Labour and Social security must be seen to apply the law fairly.”

The unions represented in this statement are Copperbelt University Senior Administrative Professional and Technical Staff Union (CUSATU), Copperbelt University Academics UNION (CBUAU) and Copperbelt University and Allied Workers Union (CBUAWU).