Our members have reached a stage of appealing to govt to consider giving them relief food – UNZAAWU

THE University of Zambia and Allied Workers Union (UNZAAWU) president George Katapazi says workers have never experienced the miseries under the PF with past governments.

And Katapazi has appealed to the government to give his union members relief food for failing to pay them for eight months.

Meanwhile, Katapazi warned the PF that it will need the workers next year.

In a press statement issued by UNZAAWU vice-president Gasi Giancarlo, union president George Katapazi said workers from National Museums Board (NMB), National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC), the Zambia Flying Doctors Services (ZFDS), National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR) and the Tropical Disease Research Centre (TDRC) had been subjected to all forms of miseries since 2018.

“Our members from various institutions such as National Museum Board (NMB), National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC), Zambia Flying Doctors Service (ZFDS), National Institute for Scientific and Industrial Research (NISIR), and Tropical Disease Research Center (TDRC) have been exposed to all types of miseries which we have never experienced before with the past governments. Initially we thought managements from these various institutions were doing nothing to push government to release grants for salaries to pay our members. But after our interactions with the various managements from these institutions and our meetings with both the permanent secretaries and the ministers, we realised that the problem was actually coming from the government,” he said.

“We, as a union, picked it up and started engaging with the various permanent secretaries, who promised us that they were on top of things. But to our dissatisfaction, nothing has been done since our last meeting in terms of clearing all salary arrears and paying our members their salaries on regular intervals,” Katapazi said.

He added that the union wonders why PF leaders make pronouncements encouraging workers to go for further studies when they have not paid these workers eight months of their salaries.

“Which school can allow you to study without paying school fees for eight months? We have been exposed to all types of miseries such as eviction from rented houses and other financial obligations like accumulated interests on loans and school fees, among others. Talk of rentals, school fees for our children, accumulated interests on loans, and basic necessities such as food. Our members have reached a stage where they are appealing to government to consider giving them relief food to sustain their families. Our members are really in a dire situation,” Katapazi said.

He said UNZAAWU was concerned and worried by the growing tendency of government’s failure to pay its members their salaries on time.

“The labour laws as contained in the employment (code no 3 of 2019 section 66 subsection 2) clearly states that the wage of an employee shall fall due and be paid at regular intervals not being later than the fifth day following the date on which they fall due. If you examine the Act, who is violating the laws? All the union is asking is that government pays its members their dues as provided for in the Employment Act. When the union comes out strongly to talk about how evil their members are being treated, the government tends to think the unions are hired guns by the opposition to speak ill about them and others are quick to disband such unions,” he stated. “Dissolving these unions will not resolve any problems; just pay our members what they are owed, that is all we are asking for.”

Katapazi indicated that government leaders had been issuing statements that had not been fulfilled.

“As a Union, we are appealing to the government to quickly find a lasting solution to the problems that our members are currently facing. Remember, these are the same people you’ll need next year,” said Katapazi.

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