By Patson Chilemba, Namatama Mundia, Mwila Chansa and Abigail C
Thu 20 May 2010, 04:01 CAT [5735 Reads, 0 Comment(s)]
PATRIOTIC Front (PF) president Michael Sata yesterday pleaded with Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) unionised workers who are on a go-slow to return to work.
Sata, who visited the ZRA head office around 11:00 hours, found the workers sitting on the grass while others were loitering around the premises.
However, upon seeing Sata the workers abandoned what they were doing and gathered around him as soon as he emerged from his vehicle.
There were ululations, while other workers were seen raising the clenched fist, the PF symbol.
“Baisa, baisa ba kateka He has come, the leader has come,” shouted some of the workers as they quickly emerged from their gatherings to meet Sata.
The workers then explained their problems to Sata.
“Ubuchushi, we have suffered. We are on a go-slow. Maybe they are going to listen to us,” one of the workers complained. “They have given a target to raise K50 billion for campaigns in 2011.”
Another worker told Sata that he had seen the problems that government workers faced.
The worker told Sata not to repeat the same mistake of being uncaring in the event that he were elected Republican president.
In response, Sata pleaded with the workers to return to work because they were dealing with a vicious government, which would victimise them, especially the junior workers.
“Write your demands on a piece of paper so that we can present it on your behalf. Let’s meet tomorrow at my office. But tell the people to go back for work because the junior workers are the ones who are going to be victimised more,” Sata said. “The government is wasting money on Frederick Chiluba and his minions instead of complying with the demands of ZRA workers. We demand that the ZRA workers be paid because the money they ZRA receive is too much.”
But one of the workers said management was not willing to address their demands as they had been engaged in negotiations since January this year.
The workers said they would come up with a petition but continue with the sit-in.
Sata promised to follow up on the workers’ grievances and ensure that their demands were met.
Sata then left the premises.
The workers then thanked Sata for being a caring leader but refused to go back to work.
ZRA Workers Union acting general secretary Shaderick Kalunga welcomed Sata’s visit but asked the workers to press on until their demands were met.
The workers have gone on an indefinite countrywide go-slow, demanding a 25 per cent salary increment.
Earlier, during a check at the ZRA head office around 08:30 hours, workers were found flashing placards which read “Zambia for all, eight per cent for dogs and not ZRA employees” while others read “fuel 13 per cent, electricity 35 per cent, salary eight per cent, equality for all”.
Kalunga said ZRA management led by Commissioner General Christicles Mwansa had failed to agree on the 15 per cent salary increment workers were demanding.
“Management are unable to give us a reasonable salary increment. We started negotiating in January up to now, they are not willing to move above eight per cent, which we feel it’s quite unreasonable because eight per cent for a lowly paid employee in the institution is about K80,000 before tax. So that amount can’t even buy a bag of mealie meal so it’s unreasonable,” he said.
Kalunga advised management to respond to the workers’ concerns quickly.
“Management should respond, if they don’t respond the go-slow will be indefinite until they give us a positive response,” he said.
However, Kalunga said workers were ready to accept at least a 15 per cent increment.
He urged workers to be united.
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