Zamtel’s workers strike ends but company operating at a loss

Telecoms

Zamtel’s striking workers who have been demanding higher wages are drifting back to work after a three week strike. Communication and Transport Minister Dora Siliya said the company was unable to meet the wage demand because the company was loss-making.

Zamtel public relations manager, Charles Kachikoti said that some workers had reported for work while others were "still away". Kachikoti said management expected that all the workers would report for duties last week so that the company could start operating at full capacity.

National Union of Communication Workers (NUCW) general secretary, Clement Kasonde said in a separate interview that the workers had started reporting for duties, although not all of them were working. "Some of them are working. We resolved at the weekend that all workers should resume work on Monday and we hope that by tomorrow (last week) things will normalise," he said.

Communication and Transport Minister, Dora Siliya on Monday called on all the workers to resume duties, as the strike was illegal. She said Zamtel had no capacity to increase salaries because it was operating at a loss. In Kitwe, the workers yesterday resumed work following stern warning from Siliya for them to call off the strike.

Some workers were sent suspension letters and were not permitted to enter Zamtel premises by senior managers who mounted a road block at the gate together with the State police. NUCW branch chairperson for engineering Ebyshy Chinkoyo, who is one of those suspended, confirmed in Kitwe that the workers got back to their offices in the morning. "Yes, I can confirm that the workers are back in their offices but those that were served with suspension letters were turned back at the gate," Mr Chinkoyo said.

But ZCTU acting secretary general, Ian Mkandawire said in a statement in Kitwe: "While the ZCTU appreciates the financial difficulties Zamtel is facing, threatening striking workers with dismissals is not the best way of resolving the impasse.

The Times of Zambia