‘Enslaved’ Zalco Workers protest, seek audience with Sata

The slave workers at Kabwe’s Zalco Industries have written to police in Kabwe to stage a peaceful demonstration so that republican President Michael Sata hears their concerns over non payment of salaries and other bad working conditions.

The workers who have not been paid their mid month salary and are working without protective clothing have accused their Lebanese employers of making them working under inhumane conditions, barred them from joining a trade union and even after they complained to the labour office and DC’s office no help has come their way.

“We are working under very difficult conditions… we therefore humbly request for your support service as our last hope, that we may have our problems heard by the republican President Mr. Michael C. Sata, so that he may be fully involved in labour matters, as the minister has heard our predicament but has turned a blind eye,” read their statement in part, and obtained by the Zambian Watchdog, and copied to the DC, OP, Labour office and Zalco management.

Earlier on Wednesday and Thursday, the workers refused to work until the Executive Chairman Hussein Saffieldine flew in from Lusaka to come and address them and assured them that they would be paid their mid month dues which are supposed to be paid by 15th, soon but never specified the date.

And speaking to the Zambian Watchdog, the workers accused labour officer Angela Chadukwa and Kabwe DC Patrick Chishala of being compromised by money and gifts from the Lebanese.

“These senior civil servants are fully aware of our harzadous working conditions, they saw it when deputy labour minister Chitotela came here but after being given some pots and money, they have kept quiet, it is like we have been auctioned in our own country and we belong to the Lebanese,” said the striking workers.

Cases of abuse by Lebanese investors have reached alarming levels but government only reacts when things get out of hand as in the case of El Raie, a Lebanese restaurant manager in Kabwe who assaulted a former worker with a wooden rolling pin and was later deported.

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