Employers who will lay off workers as a result of the increase in the minimum wage without the approval of the Labour Office will face the wrath of the law, Minister of Labour and Social Security Fackson Shamenda says.
And the United House and Domestic Workers Union of Zambia (UHDWUZ) says the union will take court action against any employer who will dismiss its members because of the recent upward adjustment of the minimum wage from K250,00 to K522,400 per month.
Mr Shamenda said employers who intend to retrench workers following the increase in the minimum wage should first consult the Labour Office which will analyse the reasons advanced.
He said in an interview with government controlled Daily Mail that Government will only entertain employers with genuine reasons to lay off workers.
Mr Shamenda said companies facing genuine financial difficulties will have to negotiate with Government over their intentions to lay off workers.
“Any employer who wants to lay off workers should first appeal to the Labour Office.
“We can only negotiate with companies which are seriously facing financial difficulties,” Mr Shamenda said.
He said Government will not hesitate to take punitive action against employers who will disobey the law.
Mr Shamenda said it is Government’s policy to help the private sector grow, but will not entertain indecent wages.
“Since the Patriotic Front (PF) came into office, we believe in creating a conducive environment for investors but our workers also need to be accorded decent wages,” he said.
Last week, Mr Shamenda announced the revised minimum wages which will see domestic workers being paid K522,400 as minimum wage per month from the previous K250,000.
The minimum wage for shop and general workers has also risen by 100 percent, from K419,000 to K1,132,400, and the changes are effective July 4 this year.
However, the Zambia Federation of Employers (ZFE) has differed with Government over the increased wages, claiming they were not consulted.
But UHDWUZ secretary general Oscar Cheupe says the union will take court action against any employer dismissing domestic workers over the new minimum wage.
Mr Cheupe said his office has so far received several complaints of threats of dismissals following the increase in the minimum wage.
He was speaking in an interview yesterday.
“Any employer who dismisses their employee on grounds that they can’t meet the minimum wage must be prepared to pay them their terminal benefits, reinstate them or face court action,” Mr Cheupe said.
He said since the announcement of the new minimum wage, his office has been overwhelmed by the numbers of domestic workers wanting to join the union.
Mr Cheupe said an average of 20 people visit his office per day wanting to join or take complaints.
The union currently has a membership of 2,500 and has a potential of having up to 70,000 members.
“More people are now joining us and some are bringing complaints of threats of dismissals in the wake of the new minimum wage but as a union, we are ready to defend our people,” Mr Cheupe said.
He said the plight of domestic workers has been ignored for a long time.