FRA workers in Livingstone down tools

NANCY MWAPE – Livingstone
WORKERS at the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in Livingstone have downed tools demanding to be paid three months’ salary arrears.
The go-slow by the workers, who are mostly loaders, has resulted in over 30 trucks carrying maize being marooned at the depot.
Maybin Bwalya, spokesperson of the workers, said they have not been paid salaries for over three months despite undertaking strenuous work.
“We have been assured of receiving our payment this week, but how can we work on an empty tummy because our job is labour intensive.
“We receive 40 ngwee per 50kg bag of maize that we load. So far, over 36 trucks are marooned and each truck carries about 600 bags of maize,” he said.
Mr Bwalya said it is unfair for FRA management to subject workers to misery taking into consideration the prevailing high cost of living.
He said majority of the workers are married with children, adding that they are failing to fend for their families.
“We are living in debt and starvation. Our children are not going to school and our wives are now leaving us for other well-to-do men due to hunger,” he said.
Another worker, Ackson Chaboya, said the agency owes workers about K90,000 for last month’s salary.
Everisto Chilesha, a driver of one of the marooned trucks, urged the agency to sort out the impasse with the workers.
“There is very poor sanitation here, no toilets; we cannot stay here for long. Let management resolve the stand-off with the workers,” he said.
But FRA provincial marketing coordinator Trynos Lungu said the agency is consolidating the wage bill for all the loaders, adding that the salary arrears will be settled before the end of this week.
“The arrears are as a result of some paperwork that went missing in Lusaka. However, the matter is being addressed with the urgency it deserves,” he said.

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