Editor's Comment

Respect labour laws

ZAMBIA’s investment climate is one of the most attractive on the continent. There are, however, some investors who still need to be schooled on the absolute need for them to adhere to Zambia’s labour laws.
The attraction to Zambia is because the country has continued to enjoy peace and stability and has not had any conflicts or wars that could interfere with investments that come into this land of plenty.
This peace and stability is hard-earned and should never be taken for granted. Failure to ensure industrial harmony in some companies, both local and foreign, could dent this unique tag of peace and stability.
This conducive environment keeps drawing foreign investments as evidenced by the exponential growth of the real estate and retail sectors.
Agriculture has also received its own share of investors as foreigners come to set up farms to engage in crop production, fishery, piggery and poultry, among others.
The tax policy in Zambia is good and attracts a tax holiday initially for big companies that invest in the country for a longer period.
Government has also embarked on a robust infrastructure development programme which has seen local and foreign investors benefit.
This has translated into the creation of thousands of jobs for local people and foreigners.
Despite this, the unemployment levels remain high due to the ever-growing population of young people.
Hundreds of school-leavers, college and university graduates are hungry for jobs to fulfil daily needs like money, food, rentals, clothes and other basic needs.
It is this unemployment which tempts some employers to take advantage of the young people’s desperation by not paying them the right wages or conditions of service.
Job seekers must know what their labour rights are before they accept offers of employment.
Employers, too, be it at corporate or individual levels should familiarise themselves with the country’s labour laws.
Ignorance of the laws is no defence. After all, all potential investors or people starting businesses are expected to know the labour laws before they begin to employ people.
Zambia has, for instance, minimum wages for various categories of employment. These are well spelt out and there is no reason or excuse for any employer not meeting this basic requirement.
Employers should bring themselves to speed with such legislation so that they pay their workers appropriately.
This also applies to maids, gardeners and farm workers and other categories of labourers.
Apart from paying a minimum wage, employers are also by law required to register their workers with the National Pension Scheme Authority and the Workers Compensation Fund Control Board.
It does not end there.
Depending on the sector, workers are also entitled to safety attire to minimise injury.
This country’s labour laws are adequate to protect both workers and employers.
But learning the laws is cardinal to avoid abuse.
Most employees are ignorant of the laws, hence being abused by employers.
The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has the mandate of sensitising both the employers and employees about labour laws.
However, the ministry is overstretched and its labour officers cannot be everywhere to monitor whether employers are not breaching labour laws.
When employees know their rights, they will be able to complain against any abusive employer, depending on the violation.
They may complain to the labour office although experience has shown that it may take ages for such grievances to be resolved.
This should not deter them because the more they bring out these abuses, the better for all other workers whose collective voice will ultimately deter employers from breaking the labour laws.


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