Workers at Kabwe’s two major employers Zalco Industries and Kabwe Industrial Fabrics Company (Kifco) with over 2,000 employees have complained about PF government neglecting them by not addressing the labour problems in their companies.
At Zalco, the Lebanese owned multi billion industrial plant, workers are physically and verbally abused and management has continued to defy labour deputy minister Ronald Chitotela’s advice last year that they allow workers to form a trade union.
Workers told the Zambian Watchdog that they have not been paid their mid month salaries which fall due on 15th and now they are expecting their monthend pay but management yesterday refused to pay them their dues instead offered to pay them a piecemeal of Kr100 which they rejected and staged a protest at the construction and copper plant sections.
The workers cried that their efforts to get their grievances heard by Provincial labour officer Angela Chadukwa have failed.
“We have not been paid any money, we have no union, we tried to complain to the labour officer, the MPs, the DC and the PS but nothing works so we are made to believe that the Lebanese boasting that the PF government is in their (Lebanese) pockets is real, it is like our leaders have sold us for pieces of silver,” said an employee in an interview.
In an effort to avoid pictures of the abuse the workers undergo, they have been ordered to be leaving their phones at the security checkpoint, a move which they say is an infringement on their rights.
Last year, a number of government leaders including Chitotela, provincial minister Philip Kosamu, Kabwe DC Patrick Chishala and PS Annie Sinyangwe visited the plant on different occasions to address the industrial problems but they have not followed up on the matter.
Meanwhile the strike by Kifco workers, who have not been paid their three terms gratuity (2006 to 2012) and have gone seven months unpaid has entered the thrid week.
This morning after a media alert to Kosamu, Chishala and Sinyangwe went to the factory which is just about 400 metres from their plush offices to address the workers and demanded that they meet the board chairman Mr. Francis Mwanamuke tomorrow but workers have complained at the casual approach by government leaders to such sensitive matters.
‘We have been protesting and calling for them for three weeks but no response, the story has been in all the media but until after we threatened that we shall protest at the provincial offices that is when they have come,” said some irate workers found sitting outside the factory.