EMPLOYERS abrogating the labour laws with impunity will face the wrath of the law, warns Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Nonde-Simukoko.
And Simukoko says government was in consultation with stakeholder to review the minimum wage, which was last revised in 2012.
During the Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) 52nd annual general meeting (AGM) in Lusaka, Simukoko, in a speech read on her behalf by her permanent secretary, said her office had continued recording reports of unfair treatment of workers by the employers.
“My ministry is deeply concerned about the many complaints we receive of unfair treatment of workers by employers. My office has continued receiving reports of employers engaging workers on casual basis even for jobs that are of a permanent nature. I wish to inform you that the ministry has intensified labour inspections and any employer abrogating the law with impunity will face the wrath of the law. Once again, I wish to reiterate the fact that the Zambia Federation of Employers is a strategic partner which should be able to council its members with regards to the law,” Simukoko said.
“Let me also use this opportunity to inform our employers that considering the high cost of living in the country, my ministry in consultation with social partners, including your federation, are in the process of reviewing the minimum wage, which was last reviewed in 2012. As a matter of fact, the process has already started with technical people from our organisation meeting to discuss preliminary issues. It is our hope as a ministry that the review of minimum wages will be one of the agenda items for the next tripartite consultative labour council meeting.”
She advised stakeholders to be open to social dialogue whenever there were disputes with the employees.
“I wish to equally call on all sector trade unions to always avoid being confrontational each time there is an issue concerning workers. Employers and trade unions in any sector should always avoid engaging in bad labour management practices where disputes become the order of each time you engage in negotiations. Our mandate as a ministry is to promote industrial harmony in all sectors of our economy and will therefore not be pleased to receive or to hear that industrial disputes are increasing in the country,”
Meanwhile, Zambia Federation of Employers president Wesley Chishimba said it was wrong for the health minister to impose a national health bill “tax” on the employers and workers without consulting them.
“We fail to understand why the Ministry of Health found it in order for them not to subject the national health insurance Bill to consultations with ZCTU and the ZFE through normal structure, the Tripartite Consultative Labour Council (TCLC), when they knew very well that they intend to raise money to finance the scheme from the employers and the employees not in the public sector but also in the private sector. We wish to remind the honourable minister that it is wrong to decide to tax employers and workers through the national health insurance law without consulting, to reach consensus with the representative organisations whose members he intends to tax,”
Chishimba urged the government to come up with a system that would not burden Zambians.
“Let the honourable Minister of Health [Chitalu Chilufya] know that if business will have to operate without the vision of growing, there would be no economic growth, and without economic growth, the country cannot grow. The attitude of viewing employers as people who are purely interested in profit is not helpful. Employers are partners in development, and we must be viewed as such. We wish to indicate that as employers, we are not willing to suffer any additional taxes in any form apart from the ones that already exist. We therefore ask the minister [Dr Chilufya] and his team to consider other forms such as channelling a component of vat to finance the national health insurance and not the current proposed payroll based on dedications from employers and employees,” said Chishimba.