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No more casuals

VIOLET MENGO, Lusaka & HONE SIAME, Kitwe
GOVERNMENT has given a New Year gift to workers by banning casualisation of labour and unjustified termination of contracts of employment.
The Employment Act has been amended and President Lungu has assented to the revised law.
Minister of Labour and Social Security Fackson Shamenda said this at a press briefing in Lusaka yesterday.
“An employer will not be allowed to terminate employment of a worker without a valid reason,” Mr Shamenda said.
The minister has, however, warned that the law will not shield non-performing and undisciplined employees from being punished or dismissed.
Mr Shamenda said the enactment of the amended Employment Act into law means that it is illegal for any employer to engage an employee on casual basis for any job that is of a permanent nature.
The minister explained that given the rampant violations and exploitation of workers’ rights in the country, Government was prompted to fast-track amendments to the employment act to arrest the scourge of casualisation.
He said the new law will also regulate fixed term contracts of employment so that workers are not perpetually kept on fixed term contracts that are renewed at various intervals.
“The Employment Act number 15 of 2015 is indeed a Christmas and New Year present to the workers of Zambia, the majority of whom have for a long time suffered exploitation and abuse of their rights through rampant casualisation,” Mr Shamenda said.
He said, however, that although employers will not terminate employment of workers without valid reasons, non-performing and undisciplined employees will be punished or dismissed.
He said workers must ensure that their productivity and discipline levels remain high.
Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) president Nkole Chishimba has commended President Lungu for ending casualisation of labour.
Mr Chishimba said in an interview yesterday that the new law was long overdue.
He said Government should ensure the law is enforced to protect Zambian workers from further exploitation by their employers.
He said there is also need for employees to raise alarm to labour inspectors to take action against employers that will abrogate the law.
Mr Chishimba also said labour inspectors need to step up their inspectorate role.
“For us, the issue is about implementation and enforcement. It (law) must be implemented to protect employees from casualisation.
“We appeal to employers to make sure they don’t wait for their employees to complain for them to implement the new law. People should report all employers who will breach the law,” Mr Chishimba said.
Patriotic Front (PF) chairperson for labour and social security Joyce Simukoko said she is happy that finally the amendment to the Employment Act has been effected.
Mrs Simukoko, a former president of the Zambia Union of Financial Institutions and Allied Workers, said casualisation of labour has been a major challenge in the country and the PF government has fulfilled its promise to bring the practice to an end.
“I just hope that employers will comply because Government has had huge challenges with some employers complying with labour laws,” she said.
ZCTU secretary-general Cosmas Mukuka said Zambia has been active in advocating the International Labour Organisation decent work agenda, therefore amendment of the Employment Act is necessary.
“If this partial amendment to the employment act can be supported in this manner by other laws which are still in draft form, it will place the country in very good standing in the region,” Mr Mukuka said.

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