THE Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) has urged Government to pay off terminal benefits for former Times Printpak Zambia Limited employees as a way of recapitalising the company.
ZUJ general secretary Angela Chishimba said the firm, which is the publisher of the Times of Zambia and Sunday Times, owed former employees K22.6 million in terminal benefits, an amount which was affecting its operations.
It was important, Ms Chishimba said, that Government paid the terminal benefits on behalf of the company as a form of recapitalisation.
She was speaking when she presented ZUJ submissions to the Parliamentary Committee on information and broadcasting on the operations of the print media inZambia yesterday which was chaired by Luanshya Patriotic Front Member of Parliament Stephen Chungu.
Ms Chishimba said the statutory debt that Times and the Zambia Daily Mail owed needed to be converted into share capital because the two institutions were unable to pay.
ZUJ recommended that the Ministry of Finance should pay from the Treasury directly to the two institutions the money that was owed to them by Government ministries and workers should also be paid their salary arrears immediately funding was made available.
Ms Chishimba said as a way to halt the financial malaise at Times and the ZambiaDaily Mail, Government should consider taking the companies to the capital market as a form of privatisation so that the public could also invest in the two companies.
She said the two institutions that were fully owned by Government were meant to run as businesses but had in the past years experienced financial challenges which required Government intervention.
Ms Chishimba said the two companies were highly indebted with the Times unable to pay unionised workers for three months resulting in low-morale among employees.
Despite the debts, the two newspaper companies, she said, were required to pay salaries, buy production material and ensure that newspapers were published on a daily basis.
She said the Zambia Printing Company, another Government owned company was even in a worse position as it was non-operational and workers were living off allowances from the Ministry of Information.
It was therefore inevitable that Government intervened and saved the companies.
Times of Zambia