Lusaka Province Minister Bowman Lusambo has given Sabs industry, a wig making company, a seven-day ultimatum to improve conditions of services for its workers or risk having its operating license revoked.
Mr. Lusambo who today stormed the Sabs plant in Lusaka light industrial area, is concerned that some of the employees who get as low as K30 per week operate without protective clothing and with poor sanitary facilities.
He advised the directors at the company which has a workforce of 146 to employ a human resource officer, who understands the country’s labour laws, and can ensure that the working conditions of the workers are in line with the law.
“The human resource officer will be able to guide you to ensure that you do not flout the country’s labour laws,” he said. He advised the directors who he said have been abusing their employees to change.
And Mr Lusambo warned labour officers that those found in dubious dealings with investors will be dealt with. “This is a warning to my labour officers who just stamp contract papers to disadvantage my people that they will be in hot soup,” he said.
The employees complained to the Minister that they are meant to meet targets of assembling a bundle of fiber at K2.50. “The amount of money we get on a day is dependent on the available fiber, sometimes we get as low as K15.” Said one of the workers who chose to remain anonymous.
He explained that money is deducted for absenteeism even when a worker is not well. “This happens even when one has a medical report from the hospital. The conditions of services have not changed for some of us who were initially employed on a temporal basis then later engaged on a permanent basis. We can be fired at any time for making any mistake,” he explained to the minister.
Another employee stated that the female workers have to pay K5 on a monthly basis for the use of the toilets. She said it is unfair for the company to force them to pay another K5 from the little money they get as an income.
“We want the government to help address our concerns as the working conditions here are pathetic,” she said.And Lusaka Province assistant labour officer, Ellen Moyo who accompanied the Minister, advised the workers to seek redress from the labour office whenever they meet labour issues.
“If you don’t tell us, we cannot help you.” She said.
Ms Moyo advised them to send representatives to the labour offices.
“You need to come with your contracts and your job descriptions so that we are able to tell if you’re getting incomes in line with your work.” She said.
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