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Government stops the exportation of silk in raw form-Kalemba

MINISTER of Commerce, Trade and Industry Chipoka Mulenga has directed Wonderful Group of Companies not to export silk in its raw form.

As a way of creating resilient industries that will in turn boost economic growth, the minister emphasized on value addition to allow competitiveness of the product on the international market.

Speaking when he toured Mupika Sericulture limited a Silk producing company owned by Wonderful Group of companies in Muchinga province on February 29, following complaints of abuse by the workers, Mulenga directed management to export silk as a finished product to increase on profit margins.

“The same way you are exporting finished tiles, fertilizer, we don’t want you to just export raw material we want you to export finished silk. Set up a plant for producing finished silk material,” he directed.

He indicated that government will promote linkages between domestic and foreign markets to build institutional capacity on a condition that the company creates employment for the locals.

The workers had complained of unattainable work standards with quick deadlines and discrimination.

In addressing the complaints with the general manager a Mr Xu and human resource officer Mulenga Chundu, the minister advised that the success of every organization is dependent on good leadership and a motivated workforce.

“We have received several complaints about the mistreatment of workers especially the female workers. In Zambia we respect women and treat them with respect,” Mulenga said

“Your superiors have asked for help to facilitate for exports to China and we are working on that and if I have to support this company to grow you have to support the workers.”

Mulenga also cautioned Xu against terminating contracts of employment for the workers without adhering to the labor laws.

“For now hold on to the plans of terminating employment until you gives us a schedule of operations and the workforce you need. For now you should hold on to the termination until we sit down as government through the ministry of labor and we should be involved as industry,” Mulenga directed.

Mulenga urged Chundu to be the mediator between the employees and employees in forming a consensus on working conditions unlike siding with management.

“HR Don’t just fire people without consulting relevant authorities. You are not enemies of the workers you are supposed to be the mediator,” he advised.

“Those charge sheets you give workers do you assess whether it’s laziness or the workers are given portions of land to teal which require a machine? Ask yourself if you can also manage to do manual labor on a big portion.”

Mulenga directed that the workers who were laid off be retained until the two ministries and the company agree on the way forward.

He also advised the workers to secure their jobs and protect their interests through hard work.

“You shouldn’t have that attitude that these are Chinese and you are Zambians this company is yours learn the skill one day you will start producing silk on your own,” Mulenga said.

“Don’t be lazy Chinese are workaholics so let them teach you how to work but that requires patience. You should also stop being lazy improve on your work ethic so that the company does not close.

Minister of Science and Technology Felix Mutati who accompanied Mulenga advised Xu to consider digital technology in the production of silk.

He urged management to see to it that workers are supplied with personal protective equipment and make the environment habitable to motivate the workers.

Mutati proposed that the company be renamed Silk Tazara for easy identification.

“Government is going out of its way to export products by Wonderful group of companies all we ask for is give respect to our people and allow them to grow the same way you want to grow. Don’t send raw material ensure you send finished material for value addition,” said Mutati.