UNZA in fresh crisis, ZRL workers strike


PAYMENT of gratuity and pension dues to senior members of management at the University of Zambia (UNZA) has triggered a fresh protest by lecturers and researchers who have been on go-slow for about three weeks.
And Zambia Railways Limited workers have gone on strike demanding payment of separation packages from the Railway Systems of Zambia.
University of Zambia Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU), who have been pressing for payment of similar outstanding contractual dues, are now calling on UNZA vice-chancellor Stephen Simukanga to resign.
General secretary Jason Mwanza said the union also wants UNZA registrar Kavwanga Yambayamba, bursar Barbara Sampa and chief librarian Vitalicy Chifwepa to step down.
He said this follows a revelation that the four principal officers, Professor Simukanga inclusive, have allegedly been paid gratuities and pension dues outside the university policy.
The policy at UNZA is that gratuity and pension dues should be paid on the “first-in, first-out” rule whereby members of staff need to wait for their time regardless of one’s position.
However, the quartet was allegedly paid their dues when other members of staff have not been paid for as long as 10 years.
Mr Mwanza said UNZALARU will take any action it may deem fit should the four refuse to step down.
He said the union has resolved that they would administer and mark examinations, but may withhold results if Government does not come up with an acceptable road map for dismantling arrears arising from contractual obligations.
Mr Mwanza said the situation at the university has resulted in the breakdown of industrial harmony and economic hardships for retired and serving members of staff.
When contacted, the UNZA public relations office referred queries to the registrar, who could not be reached by press time.
Meanwhile, Zambia Railways Limited (ZRL) workers countrywide have gone on strike demanding payment of outstanding K27 million separation packages, KALUNGA MUSONDA and CHAMBO NG’UNI report from Kabwe.
The Railways Workers Union of Zambia (RWUZ) and ZRL corporate affairs manager Benson Ngula confirmed the strike in Kabwe yesterday.
A check at the ZRL headquarters around 12:00 hours found workers outside the company premises.
RWUZ general secretary Elias Mwila said the workers who had worked under Railway Systems of Zambia (RSZ) have not been paid separation packages three years after the 20-year concession agreement was terminated.
“It is for this reason that the workers have resolved to go on strike until their money is paid,” Mr Mwila said.
He said workers who retired or resigned before the concession agreement have not been paid their benefits.
Mr Mwila appealed to Minister of Labour and Social Security Fackson Shamenda to intervene in the matter so that the workers could be paid their separation packages.
But Mr Ngula said the strike is illegal because the workers did not follow the right procedure.
Mr Ngula confirmed that Government owes some ZRL workers and retirees K27 million in unpaid separation packages.
“We want to urge the government to find a lasting solution to this situation because as Zambia Railways, we have created public confidence and we should continue operating without any stoppages,” he said.