Trade Unions

Freedom to Join and Form a Union

The Constitution and the Industrial and Labour Relation Act provide for freedom of association and allow workers and employers to join and form unions. This right is regulated by the Industrial and Labour Relation Act.

Trade union is any group or organisation of employees registered as a trade union under the Industrial and Labour Relation Act whose principal objectives are the representation and promotion of interests of the employees and regulation of relations between employees and employers; and includes a federation of trade unions.

In accordance with the Zambian Constitution, workers have the right to form, join or participate in the activities and programmes of a trade union. A person must not be compelled to join a union and the parliament must provide the legislation for the registration of associations. Trade union members are free to determine their own administration, programmes and activities; and form and join a federation.

The union must get registered within six months of its date of formation. As prescribed by the Minister, an application signed by at least 50 members is submitted to the Commissioner. The application must be accompanied by two duly certified copies of the constitution of the proposed trade union; and other information or document as may be required by the Commissioner by notice in writing addressed and delivered to the executive officer of the trade union within such period as may be determined by the Commissioner and specified in such notice.

Employer may deduct union dues from the wages of the members only after their written consent.

Bill of Rights is not part of the 2016 Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act and will be subject to a referendum during the 2016 general elections being held on 11 August 2016.

Source: §38 & 54 of the Draft Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, 2014; §4-27 of the Industrial and Labour Relation Act, 1993

Freedom of Collective Bargaining

Right to collective bargaining is guaranteed under the Constitution and recognized by the Industrial and Labour Relations Act. Collective bargaining means carrying on negotiations by an appropriate bargaining unit for the purpose of concluding a collective agreement. The Collective agreement is defined as an agreement negotiated by an appropriate bargaining unit in which the terms and conditions affecting the employment and remuneration of employees are laid down.

Collective bargaining may be undertaken at the level of an undertaking, through negotiations between the management of the undertaking and the trade union representing the eligible employees; or at the level of an industry, though negotiations between the employers' organisation and the trade union representing the eligible employees.

Collective agreement must contain the date on which the agreement is to come into effect and the period for which it is to remain in force; and the methods, procedures and rules for reviewing, amending, replacing or terminating the collective agreement.

The parties to a collective agreement submit 05 signed copies within two weeks to the Commissioner, who further submits it to the Minister for the registration. An approved CBA come into force on the date on which it is approved or on a later date specified in the collective agreement. It remains in force for such period as specified in the agreement; and it binds the parties involved in it.

In case a bargaining unit is unable to conclude a new collective agreement before the expiration of the existing collective agreement, or where for any other reason the bargaining unit desires to extend the period during which the existing collective agreement is to remain in force, it may apply to the Minister at least 60 days prior to the expiration of the existing collective agreement.

Bill of Rights is not part of the 2016 Constitution of Zambia (Amendment) Act and will be subject to a referendum during the 2016 general elections being held on 11 August 2016. 

Source: §54 of the Draft Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, 2014; §65-74 of the Industrial and Labour Relation Act, 1993

Right to Strike

Right to strike is provided under the constitution and it is regulated under the Industrial and Labour Relations Act. The long list of essential services and a long series of procedural requirements actually frustrate the right to strike.

In accordance with the Zambian Constitution, the worker has the right to go on a lawful strike. The Industrial and Labour Relations Act defines strike as the cessation of work or withdrawal of labour contrary to the terms and conditions of a contract by a body of persons employed in any undertaking acting in combination; or a concerted refusal or a refusal under a common understanding of any number of persons who are so employed to continue to work or provide their labour.

Peaceful strike is allowed only after all the methods of dispute resolution fail. Majority members of union must approve strike by voting in favour of strike, which may commence ten days following the decision to do so and may continue for an indefinite period during which the dispute remains unresolved.

Workers are prohibited from participating in a strike that has not been authorised by a strike ballot taken in the manner provided by the constitution of a trade union under this Act; or it is not in contemplation or furtherance of a collective dispute to which the employee or trade union is a party. Otherwise the person is liable to a fine up to one thousand penalty units in case of a body corporate and a fine up to four hundred penalty units in all other cases.

Employers also have the right to lockout workers. This right is subject to the same rules and restrictions as the right to strike.

Bill of Rights is not part of the 2016 Constitution of Zambia(Amendment) Act and will be subject to a referendum during the 2016 general elections being held on 11 August 2016.

Source: §54 of the Draft Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, 2014; §3, 5, 78 & 101 of the Industrial and Labour Relation Act, 1993

Regulations on Trade Unions

  • Draft Constitution of the Republic of Zambia, 2012
  • Industrial and Labour Relations Act, 1993
Cite this page © WageIndicator 2017 - Mywage.org/Zambia - Trade Unions