A former Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president has advised union leaders to avoid partisan politics and instead concentrate on addressing the welfare of workers.
Andrew Mwanza said yesterday that 2011 being an election year, some labour leaders were likely to get excited and divert from their responsibility of representing workers.
He said many politicians, mostly in opposition, were bent on casting negativity on the achievements of the current Government in developing the mining sector from its depression, but the unions should remain objective and look beyond the rhetoric.
Mr Mwanza advised union leaders to realign its focus to effectively representing workers and resist political entanglement.
He said union bodies, especially those in the mining sector, should not be tempted to neglect workers' labour matters and engage in politics.
Mr Mwanza said it was important that unions remained grounded in their basic responsibilities for the workers and not be enticed to divert from their focus with the mounting excitement brought on by this year's general elections campaigns.
He said unions could attest to the fact that the Government had played an important role in ensuring that most mining companies were kept afloat in difficult periods, and that most of them were now running without problems.
"Unionists should not fall prey to cheap campaigns from politicians who promise to improve their well-being and that of the workers even without setting out how they expect to achieve that," he said.
Mr Mwanza said unions had a responsibility to seek fair conditions for workers and not to represent their own interests by aligning themselves to political parties.
He said it was normal for any organisation, especially in the labour movement, to maintain cordial relations with the Government to represent the workers effectively.
"There is no shame in working with the Government of the day because it is them that ensure that whatever concerns unions have with the workers, they are addressed effectively," he said.
He said there was no telling which political party would be in power after the elections and it was important in this regard to work with whichever Government was in office irrespective of the unionists' political affiliations.
Mr Mwanza said the unions should not be part of those that wished to bring down the hard work the Government had put in to attract investors to sustain and invest in the mines.
He said the unions had a responsibility to safeguard workers' jobs by not entertaining politicians that supported intimidation of investors.