Unions members need proper orientation

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The statement by the Secondary School Teachers Union of Zambia (SESTUZ) general secretary, Mr Sitibekiso Wamunyima, that teachers unions have a responsibility to ensure that their members, especially, are sensitized on work processes and procedures, is true and should be supported.

A trade union, in our view should not only take interest in bargaining for salaries, conditions of service, contracts and collecting membership fees but should also ensure the members are fully oriented on critical aspects of work processes, such as PAYE and pension contribution and claims.

These are issues which union members, both new and old, mostly grapple with and are at pains to deal with while still serving or after they retire. Yet no one seem to take interest in ensuring that they are constantly oriented on them.

Employers take little interest in ensuring their workers are fully educated on these issues while the unions, on the hand, feel it’s none of their responsibility. But in our view, it should be in the interest of the unions to ensure that their members live and work easily and happily.

We are all aware that a union, by book definition, is an organization of workers who work to protect their rights and interests. Work processes and procedures, like salaries, promotion and demotion, confirmation, suspension, employment termination, retirement, PAYE, pensions etc., are all issues of workers’ rights which should also interest the trade unions.

Workers who belong to trade unions pay membership fees, which in itself, should make the unions more interested in educating members on their obligations as employees and on the obligations of employers.

We are of the view that if the members are sensitized and fully made aware of the various aspect of work processes and procedures, the unions will have less issues to deal with, as regards conflicts between their members and their employers, and their members will have less issues to worry about as regards work issues.

The members/workers will concentrate on work because their movements would be lessened, and their issues and worries would have been made lighter.

It does not augur well to have teachers, nurses and other civil servants operating in rural areas, in particular, to be constantly traversing between Lusaka and their workplaces over confirmation and irregularity issues, or going round in circles without much success on PAYE or pension contribution issues, for instance, simply because they are ignorant about them. Many man hours are lost in the process and the provision of services is affected simply because no one ever took interest in sensitizing them on such important work processes.

Like Mr Wamuyuma stated, productivity in the work place can only be promoted if the workers are fully made aware of their duties, responsibilities, rights, duties and work processes and procedures. That way, they will have less time to spend on chasing up issues, in cicles, but will concentrate on doing what they were hired for while they enjoy the benefits.

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