PRISCILLA MWILA, Lusaka and NKOMBO KACHEMBA, Kitwe
UNIONISED workers at Pick n’ Pay Zambia yesterday staged a sit-in protest at various outlets, paralysing operations of the supermarket
However, the workers resumed work later in the day.
They were demanding a salary increment of between K500 and K1,000 but management has offered a K200 pay rise.
At Levy Business Park in Lusaka, the workers were found outside the supermarket premises, accusing their employer of unfair conditions of service.
One of the workers who declined to be named appealed to Government to look into the matter and address the plight of the workers.
“When the company started, it was doing very fine but some conditions have been grabbed from us. They are telling us that the company has no money but they keep opening more stores. This company is only operating because of our hardwork,” she said.
The worker said the chain store has opened 17 stores in the last seven years but that conditions of service have allegedly continued to deteriorate.
Another worker said the lowest paid worker gets K700, managers K15,000 while expatriates from South Africa receive over K25, 000 per month.
In Kitwe, workers at Pick n’ Pay Mukuba Mall were found in the car park carrying placards vowing not to resume work until management offered them a decent pay rise.
They appealed to Government to end casual labour at the chain store, which they alleged has 90 percent workers engaged on part-time basis.
In Ndola, NKOLE MULAMBIA reports that the Zmart Mall outlet was not open as workers gathered in the car park to press for better conditions of service.
The situation was similar at outlets at Kansenshi and Jacaranda shopping malls.
Some workers said their colleagues in South Africa are better remunerated than they are in Zambia.
In Chingola NKWETO MFULA reports that the employees reported for work as early as 07:30 hours but gathered outside the supermarket.
And in an interview, Minister of Labour and Social Security Joyce Simukoko urged workers in Zambia to ensure that their unions are proactive in pressing for better conditions of service.
She said the law has guidelines on how workers’ unions can engage management to resolve any dispute.
Ms Simukoko said Government can only move in when negotiations between management and the union have failed.
“The union should first engage management to see if they can reach a common ground.
“If they don’t agree, we can now move in to address the situation. However, if we are also unable to help, the workers are free to take the matter to court. We don’t want to be accused of interfering in the negotiation process,” she said.
National Union of Commercial and Industrial Workers Pick n’ Pay Kitwe branch chairperson Francis Mwelwa said there is need to end casualisation at the chain store.
Mr Mwelwa said majority of the workers are part-time and that their salaries are below the minimum wage.