Workers throughout the country should boycott this year’s Labour Day celebrations as a way of protesting what the Patriotic Front (PF) Government has done to the country’s labour force.
UPND Chairman for Labour Percy Chanda says the country is facing abject poverty due to poor economic policies, which has led to the eroding of the take home pay for the Zambian worker. Surely, you cannot celebrate poverty.
Since the coming of the PF Government the workers in this country have in one way or another been punished for voting the PF into Government. Miners on the Copperbelt have been punished by the abolishing of a superior pension scheme and replacing it with an inferior one through the recently gazetted Statutory Instrument No 1 of 2014, which came into effect on 1stFebruary, 2014. This SI forces all mining companies to abandon their in-house pension schemes that are much more superior compared to the inferior NAPSA scheme.
Mopani Copper Mines, Konkola Copper Mines and Luanshya Copper Mines have all been forced to abandon the Regina Surtuna Pension Scheme which was far more superior in terms of the final pension payout. Under the Regina Surtuna scheme an employee contributed 5% of his pay and the employer contributed 11% as opposed to the NAPSA scheme where an employee contributes 5% and the employer contributes 5%. Clearly you can see that the PF Government is not concerned about what becomes of a miner after retirement. For many years the pension for a miner has been nothing to talk about. This has led to a miner being a destitute after contributing to the economy of the Nation through his sweat throughout ones working life. The quality of life of a miner after retirement has been very poor. In extreme cases, this has contributed to a high number of deaths of former miners as they are depressed and live like people who have never worked before. It is therefore shameful and criminal for the PF Government to sentence the miner to death after his working life.
For the public workers it is only recently that the PF Government did a Donchi Kubeba on them by promising them a hefty salary increment only to end up with peanuts. This led to the dismissal of several nurses across the country after they decided to exercise their right to strike. Now the same public workers face a wage and employment freeze. In Unionism they say an injury to one is an injury to all. Up to date only a handful of the fired nurses have been reinstated.
As if the foregoing was not enough all workers in the country had their buying power eroded after the PF Government removed subsidises on fuel and maize and the poor performance of the rebased Kwacha. The cost of living has been beyond the average worker in Zambia. The Zambian worker has been further thrown into perpetual misery by the recent increase in the pump price of fuel, which in turn will instigate a spiral increase in prices of goods and services.
In our view workers might even be risking their lives by attending Labour Day celebrations especially if suspected to belong to the opposition. Remember the PF Police will not come to your rescue when you will be battered by the PF militia. Numerous examples are there for you to see.
It is therefore safe for the Zambian workers to stay away from the Labour Day celebrations as a way of sending a strong message to the PF Government that things are getting worse for a Zambian worker.
UPND Chairman for Labour and Social Security