Editor's Comment

Wage Freeze, retirement age review important

THERE have been some salient and sometimes heated debates about the wage freeze for civil servants as well as the increase in the retirement age, which have potential to create industrial disharmony.
As we enter the New Year, it is important that any outstanding matters on these two important issues are resolved so that the country’s production of goods and services as well as its productivity are not affected.
We, therefore, welcome the announcement by Government that it has started the process of reviewing the wage freeze and the retirement age so that an amicable position is reached.
There has been acrimony on the two issues as the labour movement is opposed to the wage freeze and the retirement age of 65 years, as enshrined in the recently signed Statutory Instrument.
The SI which the Acting President Guy Scott signed has increased the retirement age from 55 to 65 years, a move which has not been well received by some sections of society.
There is, therefore, need to ensure that as Government opens dialogue on these issues, all stakeholders must be realistic in their debate so that it is a win-win solution.
The Zambian economy has been growing at a steady pace and there is need to maintain this growth which can help in reducing poverty by creating more jobs.
We also understand the labour industry’s frustration over the wage freeze which the government imposed on the workers two years ago.
But this must also be seen from a perspective that public workers had been awarded 100 percent wage increases barely a year after the PF government come into power.
There is also the other aspect which the government has been complaining about and that there is too much money going to the wage bill and other personal emoluments.
For instance, in October 2014, Minister of Finance Alexander Chikwanda revealed that 75 percent of Zambia’s domestic revenue in 2015 would be consumed by wages, salaries and allowances of civil servants and Government officials, leaving only 25 percent to cater for all other Government operations.
We are, therefore, appealing to all stakeholders such as the labour movement, civil servants as well as civil society to engage the government which has opened its doors to negotiations in a sober manner.
All stakeholders must undertake a comprehensive analysis of the two issues and provide workable solutions for the benefit of the nation.

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