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Alba Iulia
Monday, September 28, 2020

Casualization of Labor in Zambia

Columns Casualization of Labor in Zambia

Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone
Zambia Railways workers in action during the commencement of the
truck rehabilitation programme in Livingstone

In Zambia today, it has become common practice for employers to hire employees on part-time and temporary conditions of employment. This phenomenon is mainly caused by a number of factors, such as the prevalence of a high level of unemployment in the country’s economy, which has made desperate job seekers to willingly accept part-time or temporary jobs.

Also, the meager incomes earned by a vast majority of individuals who are employed on permanent conditions of service in the country have prompted such individuals to actively seek part-time or temporary jobs in order to supplement their inadequate incomes.

Moreover, an attempt by employers to circumvent the costs associated with catering for employees’ housing, medical, vacation, terminal, and other benefits normally accorded to permanent or full-time employees has contributed to an escalation in the casualization of labor in Zambia.

Besides, the desperation among retired citizens to find a decent way of earning a living while they await the disbursement of their delayed retirement benefits has compounded the problem of casualization of labor in the country.

As a result, a lot of Zambians today are subjected to a high level of job insecurity, unstable incomes, and lack of housing, medical and other employment-related benefits.

There are many ways by which the Zambian government can redress the problem of rampant casualization of labor in the country.

  1. Firstly, there is a need to provide adequately for low-interest loans to small business prospectors through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) to lessen the current over-reliance by unemployed Zambians on employment in cor-porations.
  2. Secondly, the government needs to reduce the costs borne by business and non-business organizations in providing for fringe benefits to their full-time employees through free and adequate life-saving healthcare for all Zambians, greater investments by the government in low-cost housing schemes, and making improvements in social security and unemployment benefits.
  3. Thirdly, it is important for the government to ensure that labor-related laws and regulations are not flouted by employers, and to enact pieces of legislation designed to make it illegal for employers to hire casual workers to fill permanent positions in their organizations.
  4. Fourthly, there is a need for Parliament to enact legislation designed to make retirement benefits payable within 60 or so days (Saturdays, Sundays, and public holidays inclusive) from a retiree’s last date of work. Benefits (or any portion thereof) not paid within this period should fetch 5% interest per month.
  5. Moreover, the government needs to create more jobs through lower taxes and interest rates designed to induce investments, savings, and consumption in order to make job seekers less vulnerable to employers of casual workers. The revenues that would be lost through lower income and value-added taxes would be captured through income taxes and valued added taxes to be paid by large numbers of new employees in a steadily expanding economy.

There is a need to reverse the current emphasis on stabilizing inflation at the expense of job creation and economic growth. A relatively high annual rate of inflation of around 10-15% owing to reductions in income and value-added taxes and interest rates intended to stimulate the supply of goods and services and the demand for goods and services would be acceptable.

Since aggregate wages and salaries are generally low and interest rates and taxes are high in Zambia, inflationary trends can be attributed largely to excessive government expenditure, high costs of production, and inadequate aggregate supply.

To control inflation, therefore, a wage freeze, higher taxes, and high interest rates are not the appropriate instruments. As experience and common sense have taught us, such instruments can stifle economic growth and job creation. The appropriate instruments for lowering the aggregate price levels in Zambia are, and should be, the following:

(a) Trimming the national government and strictly controlling government expenditure.

(b) Finding viable ways and means of cutting the costs of energy, water, tele-communications, and both asset protection and high insurance premiums resulting from the high incidence of burglaries, robberies, and vandalism in the country. And, among other initiatives,

(c) Striving to induce investments in commodity production and research and development (R&D) to create a more competitive and innovative economic system where business entities can provide needed goods and services at lower costs and prices.

Have we ever asked ourselves why industrialized countries have very low levels of inflation and yet they have extraordinarily high per capita incomes, very low interest rates, very low levels of unemployment, and no government-fostered wage or salary freezes?

How about the idea by some government leaders that casualization of Zambian workers would now be punishable by imprisonment? Well, I think this is intrinsically a bad idea because employers are just taking advantage of the masses of job seekers in the economy.

If the government pursues the measures I have prescribed above in addressing the casualization problem, employers will have no choice but to engage workers on permanent and pensionable terms of employment because there will be a smaller number of people willing to be hired on a short-term basis.

And attempts to “abolish” casualization are equally flawed because there are some jobs in organizational settings that are temporal or occasional in nature. To expect employers to hire workers on a permanent basis for such jobs would, therefore, be unrealistic.

By Henry Kyambalesa

The author, Mr. Henry Kyambalesa, is a Zambian academician currently living in the City and County of Denver in the State of Colorado, USA. He is the Interim President of the Agenda for Change (AfC) Party.

4 COMMENTS

  1. I know Mr Henry Kyambalesa! He taught me “Business Communication” at the University of Zambia, Ndola Campus (UNZANDO) during the 1986/1987 academic year. How time flies! This really takes me back years … . I’m now in London (UK) applying some of the communication tools I learnt from Mr Kyambalesa, almost 30 years ago!

  2. Sounds to me is this writer is not in touch with modern Zambia, he lives in the first world now, but in mind still lives in the KK bankrupt era.

  3. What you have to learn is that Zambia will not develop if we start to believe in pricing companies out of the economy. Zambia has to depend on volumes and not prices. Corporation tax must be reduced to 20% flat tax. Employment taxes must be reduced at the higher end to at least a flat 15% for those that earn above K5,900. VAT must be reduced to curb inflation to about 10% output and 8% input for the government to make genuine gains. Abolish the Empowerment Schemes and introduce a hardship allowance for the poorest citizens. Introduce a Centralized Health Insurance that acts as a second NAPSA contribution of about K400 per working head in order to fund an NHS type of system in Zambia!

  4. Like what is happening in kalumbila FQM zambians are being subjected to one year contruct while expatriates are given five years contructs just from the start.Zambians are paying rentals to stay in company houses of which the cheapest 2bedroomed house is going at k1800 per month ,expatriates houses are free including water and electricity ,zambians pay for all these services.What country is this were so called investers have no regard for owners of the country? Do we have the govenment in place? Where is the labour minister?

Comments are closed.

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