29 August 2014

Zambia: CBU Unionised Workers Down Tools

MORE than 800 unionised workers at the Copperbelt University (CBU) in Kitwe have staged a work boycott over delayed salaries, among other things.

The employees, who are members of the three CBU staff unions, namely, the Copperbelt University Academic Union (CBUAU), Copperbelt University and Allied Workers Union (CBUAWU) and the Copperbelt

University Senior Administration and Technical Staff Union (CBUSATSU), withdrew labour on Thursday.

CBUAU general secretary Elaston Njovu, who confirmed the development in an interview, said on behalf of the three staff unions that the protest bordered on Government's delays in the disbursement of grants and tuition fees to CBU.

Mr Njovu, however, said the protest over salaries was also triggered by other issues affecting unionised employees at the CBU.

He said the decision to withhold labour followed what he termed a 'trend' which was becoming consistent where the Government was delaying in releasing and disbursing funds to CBU and that this was affecting a number of things apart from salaries.

"The three staff unions yesterday (Thursday) held a meeting where a decision to withhold labour was arrived at. The problem has been triggered by delayed salaries but it is beyond that because we want the Government to address issues of disbursement of grants and tuition fees," Mr Njovu said.

He said the Government had not been releasing and disbursing money for grants and tuition fees timely and even when they did so, the money normally turned to be below the monthly budget for CBU.

"What should be known is that when salaries are delayed, there are a number of financial obligations such as National Pension Scheme Authority (NAPSA) contributions, bank loans and medical schemes that suffer," Mr Njovu said.

"When we go to hospital, we are told CBU is not remitting money for medical schemes and even when it comes to servicing bank loans, we are charged penalties."

Mr Njovu said the unions had for a long time been engaging management over the matter but to no avail.

When contacted, CBU Vice-Chancellor Naison Ngoma expressed ignorance over the work boycott by the unionised employees.

But CBU acting registrar Mwala Sheba said management was in receipt of a letter of concerns by the unions but that as far as he was concerned, the employees had not downed tools because no dispute had been declared.

Mr Sheba said the issue of delayed salaries was beyond management's control as it was dependent on Government's grants to the institution.

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