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Last Updated: Friday, 5 September, 2003, 18:03 GMT 19:03 UK
Zambian workers' union to sue government
Zambian vice president Nevers Mumba
Union workers say they will ignore Mr Mumba's threats

Public service workers in Zambia have commenced legal action against the state for 'breaching the agreement' to pay civil servants housing allowances equivalent to up to 80% of their basic salary.

The lawyer representing the Civil Servants and Allied Workers Union of Zambia and the National Union of Public Service Workers, Kelvin Hang'andu, was quoted by the country's state radio as saying that the action has been taken in the best interests of workers.

The two-week countrywide strike by about 120,000 civil servants, which paralysed Zambia's public services, was called off on Monday as union leaders, opted for a legal action.

"We have decided to take another option of taking government to court for having breached the collective agreement, which they signed and failed to honour," the president of the Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) Leonard Hikaumba told a French news agency, AFP.


In an attempt to find a solution to the crisis, last week Zambia's president Levy Mwanawasa called for a national conference of opposition parties, civil society organisations and church groups to be held within the next four weeks.

Mr Mwanawasasa,s government says that the state has not got enough funds to pay the workers their outstanding housing allowances housing allowances dating back 14 months.

Western donors, in particular the IMF, have cut aid of about $100 million to support Zambia's economy because the government had failed to cut spending.

According to IRIN, the IMF said on Monday that Mr Mwanawasa's government had exceeded its budget by 300 billion kwachas ($70 million) and had not "sufficiently explained the overspending".

Zambia is one of the least developed countries which qualify for the Highly-Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt-relief programme of the IMF and World Bank.

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Country profile: Zambia
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