Drivers must heed advice

IMAGINE this situation:  a parent, on realising that his children are in need of better shelter, begins to find ways of either buying a new house or building one.
Then, as he closes in on completing this responsibility, the children decide to rise against him with all sorts of demands about their shelter being inadequate.
This is similar to the way of thinking by some drivers who are planning a countrywide strike on October 19, 2020 to pressure for improved emoluments.
No one disagrees with the need to improve conditions of service, especially salaries, for drivers, but why go the protest way when the process of resolving the challenge is well underway?
Further, why want to champion or highjack a cause which was not even your initiative in the first place, albeit it being for your benefit.
As Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Simukoko said yesterday, this quest to have drivers better paid was initiated by Government and considerable progress has been made.
In her words: “It was Government’s decision to come up with sector minimum wages and, therefore, it is strange and unacceptable that drivers wish to be seen as if they are the ones driving the minimum wages agenda when in fact not.”
It will, therefore, be wise for the drivers to heed the advice against carrying out the illegality of parking their vehicles in protest.
Protesting in such a manner has several far-reaching consequences, and the most serious one is that of sabotaging the economy.
Clearly the drivers know that by stopping transportation of goods they would be hurting various sectors of the economy and they most likely hope that this would cause the powers that be to quickly meet their demands.
Such arm-twisting tactics are primitive. You do not expect any reasonable solution, if any, by hurting those that are supposed to facilitate implementation of your demands.
With Government saying that employers should take appropriate action against those that would take part in this protest in a disruptive manner, the drivers should think again about their illegal protest.
They ought to know that they would have weak, if any, defence against employers who take the “appropriate action”.
The drivers are therefore advised to be patient and let civility prevail. They should let the dialogue continue for a conclusion that is amicable.
If indeed some of these drivers are unaware of these talks on   formulation of the transport sector minimum wages and conditions of service, then they should seek answers from their representatives.
Those that are not members of recognised workers’ unions had better do so now.
They should also know that attempting to cripple the economy is a very serious offence which they would not want to be slapped with.
Zambia cannot afford any spanners in the works of the industries, most of which are reeling from the impact of COVID-19.
What Zambia needs is support from all sectors, such as the transporters, to ensure that goods are ferried in good time to and from industries.
We believe most drivers are hard-working and have nothing to do with this illegal route. We sympathise with them because this job is tough on the body and on the mind.
That said, though, we hope the rabble-rousers will rethink their intentions and get back to doing the right thing – and that is to continue negotiating for better perks.
For now, let them wait for the outcome of the efforts to improve their emoluments.