The National Union of Plantation, Agriculture and Allied Workers (NUPAAW) reported that five union branch leaders at Nanga Farms have been dismissed because of the industrial unrest that happened at the farm on 16 April. The branch union leaders are:
- Comment Siamanenga, Chairperson
- Joseph Lungu, Vice Chairperson
- Kebby Muchelemba, Vice Secretary, Administration
- Kalaluka Mututwa, Vice Secretary, Finance
- Alfred Kwale, Trustee
Their dismissal is irregular, continues NUPAAW, because as trade union leaders representing workers at the workplace they have to speak on behalf of the workers; they cannot be consider instigators of industrial unrest. At the same time, management sent final warning letters to some 600 workers who also protested on 16 April, after charging them with various offences. This means that if any of the 600 becomes will be dismissed if disciplined for any other fault. The threatening and intimidating nature of these actions by management is quite evident.
The main issue is that the Nanga Farm workers’ demands are fair and just. The real cause of the industrial unrest of 16 April, as explained by NUPAAW and described by the company annual reports, is that Illovo Sugar operates Nanga Farms separately from Zambia Sugar, after having acquired close to 86 per cent shares in Nanga Farms in 2009. Such strategy, which ensures cane supplies to Zambia Sugar and strengthens its near sugar monopoly situation in the country, has a negative impact on the workers’ conditions of service.
On 16 April, the workers and their leaders at Nanga Farms were clear on their demands:
- Equalization of salaries/wages and conditions of service with Zambia Sugar
- Fixed Term Contracts which are currently for one (1) year should be changed to permanent and pensionable or be adjusted to two (2) years contracts.
- Job evaluation and grading to be done; wage structure to take into account qualifications and skills.
- Integration of Nanga Farms Plc should be accelerated.
- Separate Recognition and Collective Agreement respectively.
- Evaluation of housing units at Nanga Farms Plc
- Ambulance to carry patients referred to the Hospital.
The IUF Global Sugar Program sent a letter of protest to the management of Nanga Farms, demanding the leaders be reinstated. Illovo Sugar is the largest sugar company in Africa, with strong corporate links with AB Sugar, the sugar arm of the British conglomerate ABF.