LUSAKA – Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) President Nkole Chishimba has urged trade unionists to be courageous, adding that living in fear continues to divide them.
Speaking at a follow-up event on trade union change in Zambia at the New Fairmont Hotel, supported by the Friedrich-Ebert Foundation (FES), Chishimba said the current political environment has changed the landscape of the labor movement.
“We need to rediscover ourselves because disunity robs unions of the ability to effectively represent workers.
You have to be very brave because without courage you are afraid to say what you want to say and that divides us even more.
“If we want to achieve something, we have to be brave,” he said.
Chishimba said internal conflicts are more serious than fighting an external enemy.
He said that unity and solidarity are essential in the trade union movement.
“With solidarity and unity, we can win because internal conflicts have more serious consequences than fighting against an external enemy.
There were splits (in the labor movement before the August 12 elections). Luckily, the majority dismissed the stupidity and said we should move in together,” Chishimba said.
“We were mistreated, they linked us to the UPND and we became sworn enemies. We took a very bumpy road.”
He said the Patriotic Front wanted to ram Bill 10 down the throats of Zambians at a very high price.
Chishimba recalled that some trade unionists had marched in favor of Bill 10.
Meanwhile, Cosmas Mukuka, general secretary of the Zambian Trades Union Congress, said the PF government had tried to drown out union voices by retiring workers in the national interest.
Mukuka revealed that workers were harassed under the Patriotic Front government.
“There were executives at the highest level. This workshop wants us to strengthen our voice for the next five years after the elections. We have to speak with one voice,” Mukuka said.