Crises of Expectations: Workers Struggles In Zambia, 1964-2011
Mulenga, Friday Eliya
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This study investigates aspects of the history of the trade union movement in Zambia from 1964 to 2011 by looking at some of the struggles the workers engaged in to obtain what they thought was due to them. The term ‘Crises of Expectations’ is used because what was expected and what was obtained did not always match. Workers, therefore, engaged in strikes to obtain benefits from their labour. The study investigated the economy and government labour policies. This subject was investigated because everywhere in the world workers occupy a strategic position in the economy and therefore need to have their history studied. In Zambia the trade union movement acted as the voice of the voiceless during the one party era. The main objective of the study was to investigate the nature of the workers’ expectations and their struggles to obtain rewards from their labour. The specific objectives were to examine the impact of the performance of the economy on the workers’ expectations and trade unionism; and government’s labour policies on the workers’ expectations and trade unionism; to analyse the nature of the relationship between the trade union movement and the government; to analyse the impact of economic liberalisation on trade unionism; to examine the nature of the industrial relations and impact on the economy and to examine the workers’ expectations from 1991 to 2011. Data was collected from primary sources in the Special Collections section of the UNZA library, the National Archives of Zambia and the UNIP Archives. This data was from monthly and annual labour reports, government reports, Parliamentary debates, Bank of Zambia annual reports and CSO reports. Secondary sources in the form of books, journal articles and newspapers were also consulted from both the UNZA library and NAZ. Oral sources were consulted, mainly those that have an idea of the history of the trade unionism. Data collected was analysed using mainly the qualitative method but also a little of the quantitative method through the use of tables. Major findings of the investigation are that the crises of expectations among the workers still remains and their struggles to better their lives still continue. Strikes prevented implementation of a wages and prices policy. There is still no wages and prices policy. During the First and Second Republics, in spite of confrontations between the trade union movement and the government, labour laws to a large extent helped strengthen the trade union movement. On the other hand, labour laws during the Third Republic were used to strengthen the position of investors while weakening the trade union movement, especially through economic liberalisation. On the whole, in spite of the challenges and struggles the trade union movement has shown resilience and still remains relevant to the country’s social, economic and political development, with one of its former leaders heading the Ministry of Labour as Minister until 2016 and another currently heading it as Minister.
The University of zambia