As a follow up to an earlier post in which one wonders why Zambian workers continue to march whilst in other countries, including advanced countries, workers demand for reforms, I have shared a picture from London taken last year, to give an example of how Labour Day is observed by our friends. May Day is widely called the International Workers’ Day because its agenda is for the workers and by the workers.
Zambia has transitioned away from a socialist economy where industries existed for the workers and not investors. Showing off smartly dressed workers is irrelevant, because workers now have to fight. The whole parade thing is outdated and a total hijack by the government and employers. Firstly the theme of the event is coined by the Government and secondly, what you see are companies’ advertising their product and services. Nothing for the workers interest in prominent on the day. The only thing companies demonstrate as far as their employees are concerned are the suits they buy them. You won’t see any placard or message speaking out for workers’ rights, in our version of Labour Day.
The workers in Zambia are all at the mercy of their employers. A workers is either a “muzungu ani konde” or a complainer in a corner. Unions have no rights in this country, unions are dead in the private sector and compromised in the public sector. Many workers have slave conditions where they knock off when the boss decides, they are locked up in work places and denied visitors. They are denied overtime pay or transport in case they are used for extra hours. Even complaining about ones working environment, though perfectly legal, can be a dismissible offence. The NAPSA pension fund is a total mess, which government continues to ignore due to poor foresight. We even have a Minister of Labour who unapologetically defended an abusive employer. The fact that ZNBC could not even cover a strike that was happening in their premises, show just how the government is protecting union rights. We have a government which continues to be soft on the abusive Chinese employers as we are yet to hear of a charge or deportation. And most importantly we have a Government that is incompetent at creating jobs or protecting local industries from the threat of imports which are flooding our shopping malls and markets.
A march must have meaning. How do you show your employer how badly you need health security whilst marching in a suit the employer bought you? How do you send a message to the government if you print your placards with the title that government came up with?
There is nothing partisan about this argument, workers whatever party they support, just can’t continue to have this important day abused by employers and government. For now it a useless day were employers shower gifts to workers who kiss their butt. It’s a day unions make speeches which some politician censored. It’s a day the government reads the same speech they have been reading in the last 10 years. And sadly it’s a day slave workers, enslave themselves by keeping quiet in exchange for a suit. On the bright side, Amayenge always go down well “teketa mama teke teke teketa, chingwileeeee”
Happy suits day.