The Zambian Congress of Trade Unions
has asked the government to withdraw its threat not to pay all public service
workers who took part in the just-ended strike.
The Secretary to the Cabinet
Joshua Kanganja reportedly directed permanent secretaries not to pay workers
for the days they stayed away from work during the five-week long strike.
workers went on strike to demand a wage increase and for the nurses, an
increase in uniform, night duty and housing allowances. The strike ended last
week after President Rupiah Banda promised to look into the workers’
President of the Zambian Union of Nurses
Organization Thom Yung'Ana said by threatening no pay for workers who took part in
the strike, the government did not negotiate in good faith.
the issue of withholding the salary, we strongly feel that it may not be the
appropriate action to take because once the salaries are withheld, it implies
that nurses and all the para-medicals would be expected to be going for work
without any money in their pockets,” he said.
said the workers need every penny to buy food for their families and pay for
public transportation to and from work.
a result, we expect to see a not better work force in the health sector.
Consequently, the ones who suffer would be the patients. And that’s make us
worry,” he Yung’ana said.
his directive, Secretary to the Cabinet Joshua Kanganja reportedly said public
service employees, including those considered as essential chose to go on an illegal
strike to air their grievances.
said while the union was not glorifying the strike action, it feels the reasons
are talking of a situation where our nurses get a very little amount towards
housing and that amount cannot be used to meet what the landlords expect from
them. So we see a number of nurses being either victimized or indeed evicted by
their landlords,” he said.
nurses agreed to end their five-week old strike after President Rupiah Band
promised to look into their grievances.
would not say whether the nurses feel they have been betrayed by the
government. But he said the nurses wanted solutions to their problems.
not the question whether the strike was legal or illegal, it’s not the question
whether we are betrayed or not betrayed. But I think we must dwell more on
finding solutions to the causes of the strike so that we don’t see this
happening again,” Yung’ana said.
said by agreeing to return to work, the nurses have shown their concern for
ordinary Zambians who he said need the nurses’ care the most.
said it would be unfortunate if the Zambian government went ahead to withhold
the workers’ pay for the days they were on strike. He said such action would be
contrary to President Banda’s words of forgiveness for nurses.