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Government suspends operations at Good Nature Agro for child labour

• The company is allowing its workers to involve their children.
• Such activities are not allowed by law and are defined as child Labour.
• The company is contravening the provisions of Article 16 of the Employment

Ministry of Labour and Social Security has indefinitely suspended operations at Good Nature Agro Limited in Chipata, Eastern Province, after discovering that the company was indirectly involved in child labour.

Principal Labour Officer, Francis Shabani discovered that the company was allowing its workers to involve their children below the stipulated age in doing work that would deprive them an opportunity to get a desired education.

Mr. Shabani said workers engaged by the company opted to withdrawing children from school to help them meet daily targets given by the employer, Good Nature Agro Limited.

“The company is contravening the provisions of Article 16 of the Employment Code Act No.3 of 2019 which forbids children under the age of 16 years to be involved in any work that can keep them away from school,” Mr. Shabani said.

He indicated that such activities are not allowed by law and are defined as child Labour in accordance with Employment of Young Person’s and Children Act. Cap 276, adding that government will not support any such acts that will destroy the lives of children.

Mr. Shabani ordered that operations be halted indefinitely until the company corrects the situation.
Meanwhile, Labour Commissioner Givens Muntengwa has called on pressure groups to acknowledge the law when advocating for employees.

Speaking during a meeting with Teacher unions following media reports that some people were inciting union members to resign and merge, Givens Muntengwa cautioned union members to first understand procedures provided for in the Industrial Relations Act to avoid unnecessary unrest among teachers and the general public.

Mr. Muntengwa said organizations who want to advocate for people they feel are being marginalized must acknowledge the law by engaging all parties and guiding members only when the process has been fully looked at to avoid any confusion that may arise from not adhering to the law.

He urged teachers across the country to engage their unions and take interest in understanding the law before making any decisions that may affect them in the future.

“As a pressure group, if you feel the law has short comings, the first thing you should do is to put agenda items on the table and identify what focuses on the law and what does not rather than putting everything in one box.

Dialogue with the existing trade unions rather than attacking them to avoid the law been used against you,” Mr. Muntengwa advised.

And Basic Teachers Union of Zambia (BETUZ),General Secretary, Henry Sinkala urged the aggrieved teachers to dialogue with their respective unions rather than inciting members to resign which is a contravention of the law.

He further called on teachers not to only look at the errors of the teacher unions but also the goods the unions have done in ensuring industrial harmony in the education sector.

This is contained in a statement made available by Ministry of Labour and Social Security Public Relations Officer Godfrida Chisala.

Recently, Movement for Teacher Union Merging passed a vote of no confidence in all the seven teacher unions in the country on allegation that the unions have failed to represent their members on serious issues such as salary scale upgrades, confirmations, salary increments work place mistreatments and many other anomalies in the sector.

Movement National Coordinator Steward Bwembya called for the merging of the seven teacher unions into two so as to bring sanity to the education sector.

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