PRISCILLA MWILA, Chongwe
THE Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says lack of adequate maternity protection has resulted in high maternal and infant mortality, poverty, vulnerability and gender inequality among women.
Secretary general Cosmas Mukuka said adequate maternity protection such as maternity leave, cash and medical benefits, health and employment protection enhances productivity of women at work.
Mr Mukuka said this when he officiated at the maternity protection capacity building workshop organised by ZCTU in collaboration with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in Chongwe recently.
â€œAs trade unions, we have a vital role to play in raising awareness and improving maternity protection in the workplace and beyond. We should use such opportunities (workshops) to share information on maternity protection reforms that our employer can use to improve conditions of service,â€ he said.
Mr Mukuka said women should be given enough time to recover after giving birth to enhance their productivity at work.
He said maternity protection should be priorised at workplaces as it enables women to divide time appropriately between children and work.
Mr Mukuka said workers that are denied proper maternity protection become unproductive and negatively affect a companyâ€™s output.
Meanwhile Mr Mukuka said unions should endeavor to bargain on matters to do with social protection with employers before other working conditions.
He said there is need for more education on maternal protection in work places to help workers make informed decisions.
â€œUnions should not only focus on salary increment but other working conditions such as social security and maternity protection issues,â€ he said.
And social health protection specialist at ILO Marielle Phe Goursat said maternity protection is a prerequisite for the achievement of women rights and gender equality.
Ms Phe Goursat said improved maternity protection can contribute to the attainment of the sustainable development goal number three which aims at ensuring healthy lives, and promoting well-being of all at all ages.
She commended government for its commitment to improving maternity protection as reflected in the ratification of the ILO convention 103 on maternity protection.
â€œ We are delighted to see the progress Zambia has made through various laws and policies on maternity protection at workplaces. We appreciate the work being done by ILO tripartite partners and other stakeholders to bridge the gaps that still exist in maternity protection issues,â€ she said.
PRISCILLA MWILA, Chongwe