The Ministry of Labour and Social Security has terminated the recognition agreement between the University of Zambia (UNZA) and the University of Zambia Lecturers’ and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) over alleged insults by union officials.
During a press briefing held on January 6, 2020 over delayed salaries of lecturers at the institution, the union stated that “if elections were called today, only an idiot would vote for PF.”
Following the said remarks, the government then threatened to abolish UNZALARU.
In a letter of termination that was issued to the union on Friday by acting Labour Commissioner Mukamasole Kasanda, the Ministry cited “threats as to the return of students on campus” and “unbridled insults on Management” as reasons for the cancellation of the certificate.
“Having heard the parties in the said meeting above, the Ministry observed that this was not the first time that the parties have been before the Office of the Labour Commissioner on similar matters. I wish to remind you of a similar incident which happened in September 2018 and the Labour Commissioner’s final determination of the matter as contained in the letter dated 1st November 2018. In this letter, the Labour Commissioner rejected an application from UNZA Management to have the Recognition Agreement between UNZA Management and UNZALARU terminated. The reason why that decision was made by the Ministry was purely on the basis that the parties agreed to reconcile their differences. However, in the same letter, UNZALARU was given a last warning and was accordingly advised to desist from engaging in any future illegal activities that contravened the Law and the Recognition Agreement between the parties,” read the letter in part.
The letter further reveals that management argued that the two issues in question incited industrial disharmony and had caused the relationship between UNZA management and UNZALARU to deteriorate irretrievably.
The letter also reveals that management indicated that the Union was given an opportunity to exculpate itself against the above allegations that appeared in both the print and electronic media, but that was not done.
“To this end, Management cited section 6 of the Industrial and Labour Relations Act, Chapter 269 of the Laws of Zambia which provides what the union can or/and cannot do. Further, Management also cited article 18 of the Recognition Agreement between the Union and Management of having been breached. To substantiate their case, Management did indicate that the Union was given an opportunity to exculpate itself against the above allegations that appeared in both the print and electronic media. However, following your response that Management found to be unsatisfactory, they proceeded to invoke provisions of the Amendment Act No. 8 of 2008 of the Industrial and Labour Relations Act Cap 269 of the Laws of Zambia,” read the letter in part.
According to the letter, the Union also indicated that although the print media reports were attributed to UNZALARU, it had no control over what was published.
The letter disclosed that the Union did not see any reason to withdraw the remarks or indeed have them corrected by the media houses as the alleged “insults” on management were just a figurative speech.
The Ministry, however, stated that it terminated the Recognition Agreement according to the Laws of Zambia.
“In view of the above, the Ministry wishes to inform you that the application to terminate the Recognition Agreement has been approved in accordance with section 65A (3) (a) of the Industrial and Labour Relations Act, Chapter 269 as amended by Act No. 8 of 2008 of the Laws of Zambia,” the letter read.
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