Sata: Keen to see sound Labour, social security
Published On November 13, 2014 » 1874 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Features
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By GETHSEMANE MWIZABI? –
MAN for the people or man of action as he was often referred to, late Republican President Michael Sata was pretty passionate about labour and social security issues.
The coming of the Patriotic Front (PF) on September 23, of 2011, brought an era of robust labour reforms, in a country with high unemployment levels.
One of the major highlights of the late President’s programmes was the introduction of the minimum wage.
Although, it brought lots of debate from various stakeholders, the idea would soon settle in the Zambian labour mind.
Domestic workers’ salaries were increased from K250, 000 to K420, 000 as basic pay and transport allowance of K102, 400 translating into a total of K520, 400.
Shop workers whose minimum wage was at K419,000 was increased to K1,132,400 with a breakdown of K700,000 basic salary and 30 per cent housing allowance, transport allowance of K102,400 and K120,000 lunch allowance.
Similar conditions for shop workers also applied to general workers.
The revision of the labour laws was part of the PF manifesto, which states as follows,
• Review the Employment Act so as to introduce clear legal provisions that will govern casualisation of labour and outsourcing of services;
• Review the Minimum Wages and Conditions of Service Act;
• Carry out a comprehensive review and amendment of current labour related legislation such as the Factories Act which are now outdated;
• Rationalise the administration of the Ministry of Labour to effectively carry out its inspectorate functions so as to promote the welfare of workers in workplaces;
• Domesticate and implement international labour standards that Zambia is a signatory to; and
• Re-establish the labour department to maintain a register of available skills in the country.
Job creation was at the core of Mr Sata’s vision, which is why he was popular with the common man.
With massive road construction programmes, President Sata directed all the ministries, provinces and spending agencies to ensure that 20 percent sub- contracting and job creation for locals should be part of the evaluation criteria for award of all contracts.
In addition, he paid attention to the growth of the small and medium business to promote job creation.
Further, Government through his leadership adopted an industrialisation and job creation strategy focusing on specific growth sectors such as agro-processing, manufacturing, tourism, construction, creative industries, information technology, metal fabrication, steel production, clothing and textiles.
Without any lavish praise, social security was another area of concern to the late President.
Zambia has a long history of contributory social security schemes, which are based on the social insurance model and limited to the provision of protection against the loss of income resulting from retirement, disability and death.
Thus, scope of coverage is limited, and working women are often excluded as they are predominantly in informal jobs.
The national social security institutions are the National Pensions Scheme Authority (NAPSA), the Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) and the Local Authorities Superannuation Fund (LASF).
In addition, there are a number of occupational pension schemes and an occupational disease and work injury scheme: the Workers’ Compensation Fund under the Workers’ Compensation Fund Control Board (WCFCB).
Further, there has been need to come-up single piece of legislation to Government social security in Zambia, which is why there are current labour reforms.
Each of the social security schemes has its own Act.
A Single social security legislation would bring harmony to the industry, which has been bedeviled with plenty inequalities.
To Mr Sata, the need to reform the social security system was imperative.
It was evidently clear that the administration of the social security system under the previous government left the majority of workers destitute upon retirement.
Thousands of former workers did not only get insufficient retirement benefits, but also have to endure many years of waiting for them to be paid these benefits.
Many of them have died without receiving their terminal benefits.
“My Government will move quickly to comprehensively address these long outstanding social and economic injustices in the management of our social security schemes,” he said, in his inaugural speech to Parliament.
In addition, social security had been has been benefiting people in the formal sector.
The current revision of the act would extend coverage for those in the formal sector, working with an employment contract, and to those in paid employment.
The majority of working people lack adequate social security coverage.
Consequently, most workers are underpaid and continue to work in unsafe workplace.
Consequently, most workers are underpaid and continue to work in unsafe workplace.
True relevant pieces of legislation like the employment act, Workers Compensation Act and many others governing social security schemes are currently under review.
The idea is to bring them in line with the needs of the beneficiaries and hence eradicate rampant corruption in the sector.
Ultimately, Mr Sata was passionate about workers rights and social security, as evidenced by the introduction of robust reforms the moment he assumed office in 2011.
He would be remembered as an ardent champion of workers’ rights.

 

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