Editor's Comment

ZCTU indaba should benefit workers, nation

THE Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) will hold its quadrennial congress next week.
This will be an opportunity for the congress to usher in a new leadership and chart a new course in its efforts to improve the welfare of the Zambian worker.
We are happy to note that ZCTU is abiding by its constitution, which stipulates that it holds a general congress every four years to review its performance, come up with a new agenda and elect new leaders.
This congress comes at a crucial time when a number of challenges plague the labour market.
We therefore expect the delegates to take the meeting’s deliberations seriously and come up with resolutions that will be in the interest of the workers.
During the gathering, current ZCTU president Leonard Hikaumba, who has been at the helm of the mother body for quite a long time, is expected to hand over the mantle of authority to a new president.
As expected, there will be heavy campaigns as the candidates jostle for the various positions that will be up for grabs in the national executive committee.
We urge the delegates to scrutinise all the people vying for the positions to ensure they put into office those who will serve their interests.
This will be an in-house contest and we expect it to be peaceful and mature.
No mudslinging should be entertained because it diverts the delegates from important matters related to their bread and butter to personalities.
ZCTU occupies an important place in our society because it engages the government and other employers on the best ways of protecting and upholding the rights of the workers.
Therefore, the workers whom the unions affiliated to ZCTU represent have high expectations from the congress.
There are many issues such as casualisation, slave wages, ill-treatment of workers and poor conditions of service that require serious deliberations to come up with workable strategies for addressing them.
While ZCTU is expected to fight for the rights of workers, it should also not forget that it is a partner of the government in the search for solutions to the many challenges facing the labour market.
The government has already demonstrated its commitment to improving the lives of Zambian workers, including civil servants.
It has introduced a number of policy measures that have seen the pay-as-you-earn threshold raised significantly in the last two years.
There are also reforms being implemented in the legal framework in the labour sector all aimed at improving the welfare of the worker.
But for all these efforts to bear fruit, the government needs the input of the labour movement.
The new leadership that will emerge from the December 18-20, 2014 quadrennial congress should consolidate the gains of their predecessors and continue engaging the government and employers on all those issues.
Government will certainly be happy to work with a stronger and more united labour movement to resolve the challenges besetting the sector.
Some of the areas that will require mature leadership are the statutory retirement age for public workers, the wage freeze and casualisation.
There has been a lot of goodwill from the government, which ZCTU should reciprocate with rational engagement that protects both the interests of the workers and the nation.
We are confident that the gathering will produce resolutions that will benefit both the workers and the nation, and a leadership that will be committed to improving the welfare of workers.
The nation expects ZCTU to emerge from the meeting more united and focused so that it can continue to contribute to the development of the nation.

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