We are appealing to the Ministry of Labour to intervene in the rampant abuse of workers’ rights at Radio Phoenix.
Over the last few months, we have been receiving reports that the station’s new owners have been on a warpath to mistreat workers at the radio station.
Apart from low salaries, management at Radio Phoenix is now firing people at will.
Just last Friday, management saw it fit to fire one of the station’s longest serving employees Christine Ngwisha without reasons.
Early this year, another long serving employee Billy Kazoka was unceremoniously sacked without specifying reasons.
We also know of other dismissals at Radio Phoenix that have gone unreported.
This has now created an environment of fear and uncertainty among the workers at the radio station.
One might ask what our interest in the welfare of Radio Phoenix is, well, we believe as politicians, we have to speak out against injustice anywhere.
We wish to appeal to the Labour Commissioner to exercise the powers of her office and summon management at Radio Phoenix for a meeting to explain why they are now abusing workers.
The pioneer of Radio Phoenix Errol Hickey is a proud and hard working Zambian who operated the station so well to make it the country’s most commercially successful private radio station.
Mr Hickey succeeded because he prioritised workers welfare and Radio Phoenix became the employer of choice and a gem in the media industry which is well known for mistreating workers.
Since the coming in of the new investors from Botswana, Radio Phoenix has seen the worst forms of labour abuses.
We have seen and read the contracts that the new management forced the workers to sign and we can state here that those contracts are outrageous and do not conform to our labour laws.
We there wish to appeal to the Labour Commissioner to study the worker’s contracts and force the management to amend them.
We fear that the people working at Radio Phoenix who are predominantly young and building up their careers will continue being subjected to slave conditions
Government should step in and protect the interest of the men and women working for this radio station before the situation worsen.
Cabinet recently passed a bill to end casualisation which will also compel employers to give reasons if they intend to sack any worker.
This clearly shows that the action by management at Radio Phoenix contradicts Government policy.
If the Labour Commissioner fails to intervene and force management to reinstate Ms Ngwisha, as MMD youths, we will petition President Edgar Chagwa Lungu so that these abuses are put to a stop.
We also want Government to investigate the shareholding structure of Radio Phoenix because the secrecy surrounding the manner in which the Botswana investors came in to run the station has not helped improve the situation.
We know that our laws do not support majority shareholding of media houses by foreign entities but going by the manner in which these Tswana investors attained management rights of the station goes to show that they have more shareholding than what the law accommodates.
As MMD youths, we will continue watching out for the best interests of our local people because Zambia is for us all.
We appeal to Radio Phoenix to reinstate Ms. Ngwisha forthwith or face a series of actions that will compel management to act.