Editor's Comment

Creating decent jobs is a joint effort

Government complex.

ZAMBIAN workers, employers and other stakeholders today join the rest of the world in celebrating Labour Day under the theme “Enhancing productivity and alleviating poverty through decent work”.
Decent work as emphasised in the theme has become a universal objective and has been included in major human rights declarations, UN Resolutions and outcome documents from major conferences.
These include Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the World Summit for Social Development (1995), World Summit Outcome Document (2005), the high-level segment of ECOSOC (2006), the Second United Nations Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (2008-2017), Conference on Sustainable Development (2011) and in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2015).
World over, including Zambia, it is realised that it is practically impossible to alleviate poverty in the absence of decent work.
Government under the leadership of President Edgar Lungu has been working to ensure the creation of decent jobs by creating an enabling environment for both foreign and local investors.
President Lungu in particular has traversed the world in a bid to woo investors as well as draw lessons from other countries on how they are creating jobs and improving living standards of citizens.
Under the 7th National Development Plan, Government is directing the country to a path of diversification and industrialisation.
For instance, Government is working to diversify the economy to other sectors such as agriculture, tourism and manufacturing.
All this is in a bid to provide decent jobs for Zambians and subsequently transition to a middle-income status by 2030.
Government is also working to grow the capacity of small businesses through various initiatives in a bid to produce a multiplier effect which includes job creation.
For instance, Government has put in place a policy which stipulates that 20 percent of every significant government contract awarded be reserved for local contractors.
This is aimed at building capacity for local businesses for them to contribute to economic growth and job creation.
While Government is working to not only enhance job creation but to also ensure that it leads by example in providing decent work, other players such as a private firms and citizens in general do not seem to understand that they have a role to play.
For instance, some of the local contractors who have benefited from government contracts under the 20 percent policy have turned out to be a huge disappointment.
Most of them, upon being given a payment, would rush to spend the money on luxurious cars instead of investing in business growth, which is key to creation of decent jobs.
It is clear that there is need for a mindset change among local businesses, to think of a bigger picture as opposed to focusing on their personal gratification.
Needless to say, the development of this country and creation of a decent livelihood for all will take the involvement and patriotism of all citizens.
Those who have an opportunity to run businesses must do so diligently, bearing in mind that they have an obligation to contribute to the country’s economic growth beyond their pockets and families.
Those employed must also ensure that they work hard to contribute to the success of the firms they work for. High-level productivity of employees is vital for the success and growth of any company.
Regardless of how much capital is injected in a business, it takes a productive workforce to propel it to greater heights of success and growth.
It is through significant growth that companies can create decent jobs and improve the standards of livelihood, thereby alleviating poverty.
As we celebrate Labour Day, let’s all remember that the theme speaks to all of us to enhance productivity as well as alleviate poverty through decent work.
Government, through its various technocrats, will also do well to ensure that investors that come into the country add value by providing decent work and respecting workers’ rights.
It is good that this year’s Labour Day celebration comes just after the approval of the new Employment Code Act 2019, which seeks to regulate the labour market as well as protect rights of workers.
It is in the best interest of both employees and employers to familiarise themselves with the contents of the Act to ensure that a conducive environment for productivity is maintained.

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