Zambia: Zambia Sugar declares dispute in sour salary talks

From Times of Zambia
20 May 2007

THE Zambia Sugar Company Plc in Mazabuka has declared a dispute with the National Union of Plantation and Agriculture Workers (NUPAW) after failing to reach an agreement during negotiations for the period April 2007 to March 2009.
NUPAW president, Kalilakwenda Mudenda and general secretary, Mailoni Kabulayi confirmed the development in Mazabuka soon after a protracted meeting with management. The two said the union would not hesitate to urge members to down tools if the demands of 40 per cent salary increment was not endorsed.
Mr Mudenda said NUPAW had appointed Father Joe Komakoma to chair the reconciliation meeting while Zambia Sugar has appointed former ministry of Labour and Social Security Permanent Secretary, Alec Chirwa to represent the company. He said both parties failed to reach an agreement as the management maintained that it could only award employees 10 per cent.
And company manager for human resources, Doreen Kabunda announced the dispute in a circular dated May 14, 2007 addressed to all unionised employees. Ms Kabunda said the Labour and Industrial Relations Act allows both parties to go for reconciliation adding that management was keen to have the process concluded as soon as possible.
But Mr Kabulayi said unionised workers would not accept the 10 per cent, adding that forcing them would only result in industrial unrest. Mr Kabulayi said Zambia Sugar Company was a profit making firm and could not award its employees a percentage less than what the Government had offered public service workers who got 16 per cent. He complained that the lowest unionised employee was getting ZMK 717,000 while casual workers were getting ZMK 421,000. Mr Kabulayi said there was need for the company to review conditions of services for its employees.
The funeral grant of ZMK250,000 given to deceased employees and ZMK84,000 for an employee’s parents was not sufficient and needed to be reviewed. He has advised the company management to read the mood of workers and avoid issuing provocative circulars that would force them to react in a negative manner. (1.00 USD = 3,800.20 Zambian Kwacha, ZMK) (ZANIS)
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1 comment

    • Jorge Chullen on June 16, 2007 at 2:35 pm

    On a phone interview on 16 June, Mailoni Kabuyali, NUPAW general secretary, told The Sugar Worker that a meeting with the board of conciliators held that day had failed in resolving any of the outstanding issues under negotiations, and that a meeting with the company had been scheduled for Monday 18 June, when the parties would review the situation and a decision might be taken to either go to arbitration or the union may decide to call a strike. Some 4,400 workers are covered by the present negotiations.
    On wages, the parties are still far apart, with management offering only a 10 percent increase, against a union demand of 40 percent. On terms and conditions of service under negotiations, management have argued that the company is not able to increase costs, and therefore cannot agree to any of the union demands.
    The union might be in a position to call a strike because a process of arbitration takes a long time, probably up to two years, to reach a final decision, and workers are not willing to wait for such a long period.

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