UPND chairman for mines Percy Chanda says workers must unite against the PF regime for them to survive and avoid destitution. Chanda, in a press release, said it was shameful and irresponsible for the Patriotic Front to fail to pay workers what was due to them but purchase a state-of-the-art aircraft. He said the government being the largest employer in the country was sending wrong signals to the private sector that is likely to copy its bad and greedy manners.
Chanda said employment was based on two parties entering into either oral or written contract both which are binding.
“In either of the two, three things must come out – one has to know the time to report for work and knocking-off time; [two] the salary/wages; three, when this salary is to be paid. This is in order to protect employees from being abused by the powerful employers. The contract may contain any other conditions of service,” he said.
Chanda said once those conditions of service have been agreed upon, they become binding on both parties.
“Meaning if you agreed to report for work at 07:00 hours and you report at 07:15 you have abrogated the agreed conditions of employment. And if you were told to knock-off at 16:00 hours but you knock off at 17:00 hours you are entitled to overtime. Forget about giving you time off, that is wrong and has a procedure that I can’t labour here,” he said.
“If you agreed to be paid on 25th of every Month, the employer is under obligation to pay you on that date or even earlier should 25th fall on a weekend or holiday and not after, unless otherwise. And should you go for a month or so without pay, it simply means the employer has abrogated the agreed contractual obligations.”
Chanda said since the employee as an individual was a weak party to this agreement he or she has the right to form or belong to a union of his choice to enhance their voice against the employer.
“At this stage the employee is equal, sometimes even more powerful than his employer. In all this arrangement there is no third party involved. That being the case, why then is this corrupt PF government abrogating workers’ rights with impunity? Where do PF cadres come in the contract that is only between two parties? On the other hand, why is the voice of the Zambian worker too weak nowadays compared to the mid 70s? Something has totally gone wrong,” said Chanda. “Never in the history of this country have party cadres been sent to beat workers for whatever reasons, whether illegal or not. Not even the once powerful UNIP vigilantes ever involved themselves in labour disputes. As UPND we demand that police must arrest those Kabwe PF cadres without delay.”