Receptionists demand more!

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By Meluse Kapatamoyo

In March 2010 Mywage Zambia together with the WageIndicator project held an interactive one-day meeting under the theme “Decent Work” at Lusaka’s Southern Sun Hotel, with workers representing various companies.

The workers ranged from receptionists, call center representatives, accountants, sales persons, and journalists to waitresses. Trade union experts were also in attendance.
The employees spoke freely about their struggles with employers to negotiate better wages. Most were unsatisfied with the conditions they were forced to work under but were afraid to quit due to high levels of unemployment in the country.

However, while the venue was packed, some workers were unable to attend. They had to work on that day but still they wanted their voices heard. 

A group of discontented receptionists working for a reputable hotel sent Mywage Zambia a letter expressing their frustration over poor working conditions.

Here are excerpts from their letter:

•    “We get paid K600, 000 (US$128) per month. In this we have to pay house rentals, transport to and from work and buy food.”

•    “We have familes to keep who are in school and dependants (orphans).”

•    “We try by all means to sell our products (rooms) usually we have a full house but we do not get a service charge compared to other lodges, hotels and guest houses. We think it is the Zambian law to get a service charge. We are therefore asking if the (HCAZ) Hotel Catering Association of Zambia (HCAZ) can help, as we do not have a union. We only have a board.”

•    “We work long hours and there’s no job security and no over time. How and when are we going to upgrade our studies when our salaries are the lowest compared to other lodges?”