COUNCIL OF CHURCHES IN ZAMBIA
Following a directive by the Minister of Labour and Social Security to the nation to effect retrospectively, the amendment to statutory instruments No. 45, 46 and 47 for domestic, general and shop workers respectively with effect from 4th July, 2012, we the Council of Churches in Zambia wish to express our views on the matter as follow;
We appreciate, acknowledge and support the urgency of the Government to put more money in the pockets of people, and we firmly support the Government’s policy on better wages and better lives for the people in Zambia. CCZ is an advocate for liveable wages and decent conditions of service for Zambians. The principal of a decent minimum wage is long overdue and therefore welcome.
We, however, believe that this decision if implemented in the proposed manner might have the opposite effect on the already poor people in Zambia. Employers needed to be prepared for this drastic increase in their budgets. A prorated process would have helped the employers to adjust their budgets.
It seems to us very unrealistic to backdate the effective date of this directive to 4th July 2012 when most employers were already implementing a budget agreed upon at the beginning of the year.
In our view, this action, instead of helping the poor people in whose name this apparent good pronouncement is made may be on the other hand detrimental and make them victims of this otherwise good decision. We see more people out of employment as employers may not be able to meet the sudden demand for such huge increases in their wage bill. It is also most likely that the cost of living for many Zambians will go up in an uncontrollable manner as employers panic to raise more money to increase wages. This will have an effect of increased inflation.
This impromptu directive may be recipe for industrial unrest and many companies will opt to shut down than to bear costs they cannot immediately implement. The alternative will be to increase casualization which will be against the Government’s well intended call for permanent and quality jobs for Zambians.
A timeframe for implementation would have been more acceptable in order to give employers time to adjust and to put up their sale prices.
CCZ is proposing a stakeholders meeting to thresh out the matters and come to an amicable conclusion in order to avert industrial unrest, loss of jobs and increased poverty.
Our sentiments on this matter should not be construed to mean that we are backtracking on our advocacy on the issue of poverty alleviation. All we are asking is that a more coordinated way and consensus way would have been more acceptable for all so that there is no looser in the equation.
Rev Moses Lucas Mwale
16th July, 2012