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Workers can cripple wheels of the economy, Kabisa warns govt

WORKERS are the ones that turn the wheels of the economy but they can also cripple the wheels from turning, says labour leader Muyaywa Kabisa.

Speaking at the Zambia Union of Government and Allied Workers (UG) 2nd Supreme Council meeting at Chrismar Hotel on Tuesday, Kabisa said workers want the government’s support for them to in turn offer the much needed support that the government so much requires.

“You cannot sit in State House and govern when the rights of employees are stifled. Employees are the ones that turn the wheels of the economy and employees are the ones that can cripple these wheels from turning. So we want to seriously advise the Republican President and his team to take good care of government employees,” he said.

“The workers are ready to work hand-in-hand with government as they have worked before with other governments. Workers are ready to create an environment for you in government offices to deliver and they need the support that will make that support you require from them available and adequate.”

Kabisa said workers should be allowed to exercise their rights without interference.

He said UG does not want to see a situation where when workers’ representatives speak in defence of workers’ rights and expectations they are victimised and retired in national interest.

“We commend the new dawn administration for commencing a process to bring back all employees retired in suspicious circumstances,” Kabisa said. “Government should move a step further and include reversal of all transfers of employees to rural areas as punishment for exercising their rights including the right to expression.”

He said workers are not happy with the current National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) provisions as regards pension benefits as they do not provide for a meaningful lump sum payment as compared to the Public Service Pension Fund provisions.

Kabisa also advised the government to consider reducing the country’s debt servicing from the current 29.9 per cent which is 60 per cent of the health and education budgets combined to 12 per cent saying doing so would yield an additional K30 billion which can be spent on the public service as well as go towards the provision of free education.

He also bemoaned the high cost of living as reflected in the Basic Needs Food Basket, released by the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflections, which stood at K8,413.65 as at September 2021 from K7,071.37 in September 2020.

“Given the steady increase in the cost of living, it can clearly be seen that, in fact, over the years the real wage of a civil servant has declined,” noted Kabisa.

Assistant Labour Commissioner Emelda Sichone promised to deliver the union’s “important” submissions made by Kabisa to Minister of Labour, Brenda Tambatamba.

And Tambatamba, in a speech read for her by Sichone, called on the labour movement to reestablish their credentials as partners in development.

She bemoaned the many unions that have flooded the labour movement.

“Because of the so many unions the workers’ voices are not being heard,” said Tambatamba.

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