Teachers demand retirement to remain at 55, paid lump sums
Livingstone, July 6, ZANIS——-Labour and Social Security Minister, Fackson Shamemda on Friday (yesterday) had a tough time convincing Zambia National Union of Teachers (ZNUT) members on the benefits of retiring at 65 instead of 55 years.
Mr Shamenda also faced challenges as he tried to persuade the delegates from advocating for their retirement packages to be paid as a lump sum saying this impacted negatively on the social security of retirees.
He said retirement at the age of 55 was too early and led to high mortality rates as retirees failed to sustain themselves and their families due to the weaknesses in the current social security system and payment of lump sums would only worsen the situation.
“This social retirement age issue is controversial and I clearly disagree with you that retiring at the age of 55 and paying you lump sums is in the best interest of the majority of Zambians,” he said.
The labour minister said this during the closure of the ZNUT 10th Quadrennial Conference of delegates at New Fairmount Hotel in Livingstone yesterday.
Mr Shamenda advised the delegates not to be emotional when deciding on important issues which bordered on social security as this would benefit them in the long-term and prevent cases where retirees became destitute after misusing their retirement packages.
He also cautioned them that government would never implement decisions that were not in the best interests of the majority of Zambians even if this made it unpopular in some circles.
However, ZNUT members remained adamant and the 10th Quadrennial conference of delegates resolved to maintain the mandatory retirement age in the teaching service at 55 years with an option of retirement at 65 years and for their dues to be paid as lump sums.
The conference also resolved to urge government to ensure the September 2013 salary increment be paid as agreed in the collective agreement and to expedite the merger of the three teacher unions; ZNUT, Basic Education Teachers Union (BETUZ) and the Secondary Education Teachers Union (SESTUZ).
The delegates further called on government to improve the teacher-pupil ration, infrastructure development and teacher motivation in order to attain quality motivation, quality education access and quality control among others.
And Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Secretary General Roy Mwaba defended the resolutions made by the delegates by stating that teachers wanted to retire at 55, get their lump sums and invest in real estate.
Mr Mwaba who is also ZNUT Deputy President said with current poor working conditions and lack of a proper housing policy, it was impossible for teachers to building housing units while working.
He noted that government meant well by trying to increase the mandatory retirement age, but that the decision should be left to the workers to decide.
Mr Mwaba also challenged government to ensure the resources saved from removal of subsidies on maize and fuel was put to good use as this would benefit ordinary citizens.
Meanwhile, Henry Kapenda, Roy Mwaba, Newman Bubala, David Banda and Catherine Chinunda retained their positions as President, Deputy President, General Secretary, Deputy General Secretary-Administration and Organization and Deputy General Secretary Finance and Business respectively as they were unopposed.
And Beard Mwanza, Edith Masheke, Elijah Chisengu and Brian Manyando were elected as Trustees for the ZNUT Executive.