Zambia: ISON Workers Reject 7% Salary Increment: It’s a Mockery, Unrealistic and Unacceptable



Below we publish a statement of the Economic Liberation Association, a socialist organization in Zambia. There website is








Press Statement for Immediate Release


August 3, 2017


Lusaka, Zambia




On behalf of our affiliates, the oppressed workers of ISON BPO (Business Process Outsourcing), an Indian multi-national company that was sub-contracted to handle all call centre services of MTN Zambia in 2015; ELA wishes to totally reject the 7% salary increment that has been awarded.


1. The increment is contrary to the expectations and demands of the workers who have long stood firmly for nothing less than a 100% increment, of which ISON had agreed to earlier.


2. This reduction from 100% to 7% can be best described as a betrayal, an insult, and a slap in the workers faces. 7% is unrealistic, insignificant, inadequate, and therefore unacceptable given the hostile economic situation where workers can barely afford to provide food on their tables and a roof over their heads for their families.


3. We equally condemn similar deplorable conditions of service currently obtaining at Tech Mahindra, and Allied Mobile Telecommunications; Indian and South African companies that were outsourced by Airtel Zambia to manage its call centre services and retail outlet stores throughout Zambia respectively.


4. Therefore, ELA wishes to categorically reject the 7% increment on the following grounds:


(A) 7% was not what was agreed. 100% was agreed.


(B) 7% is meaningless considering that the current cost of living (food basket), just in Lusaka alone, stands at K5,000 per month for a family of five; workers are asking for a salary ranging between K3,000 and K5,000.


(C) At 7%, the salaries of ISON workers will remain static at no more than K1,070, from an initial K1,000. 7% is nothing except day-light robbery and scandalous exploitation of hardworking workers by ISON.


(D) The said 7% hasn’t been applied to all workers, as demanded initially. Instead, an attempt to avoid any wage increments by ISON management has made them opt to award the 7% based on A+ worker performance levels which are practically unattainable. With this condition, the net effect of the said increment will go to no one since few, if any, ever reach the set performance levels. 


Such a devious condition for salary increment is not only illegal, but it is also unethical, and therefore rejected.


5. Therefore, ELA has officially written to ISON Global CEO, Pravin Kumar to express our displeasure at the maltreatment of Zambian workers. We further demand that Mr. Kumar explain, among other things:


(A) Why ISON workers in India, Nigeria, Kenya and other countries were ISON has operations, are being paid far much more, and have considerably better conditions of service than their Zambian counterparts.


(B) Why ISON India pays its workers five-times more than Zambian workers despite the fact that ISON Zambia makes more profit per head in Africa. Such racial and wage discrimination will not be tolerated!


6. We further urge ISON management to stop the intimidation, and indiscriminate hiring and firing of workers who threaten to strike. All workers have the right to strike if and when management refuses to listen to workers' just demands. 


7. The workers’ demands still remain the same: that is 100% increment across the board, better conditions of service, and permanent jobs, not three-month slave contracts. ISON workers reject racist conditions of work.


8. ELA wishes caution the Ministry of Labour - corrupt, compromised and ineffective as they are, to stop contributing to the exploitation of Zambian workers by their deliberate or unwitting failure/unwillingness to revise the statutory minimum wage Act which has remained stunted at K700 since 2012.


9. The Patriotic Front Government, through its Labour Ministry, owes every working Zambian a duty of care to periodically review and updated the minimum wage laws in line the state of the economy, so that workers wages are not diminished or rendered worthless altogether by the ever-rising cost of living.


10. Labour must update and enforce labour laws to ensure unscrupulous investors do not use the current wage loopholes as justification and license to exploit Zambian workers for their own profit; failing which, Minister of Labour Joyce Nonde owes the workers of Zambia two things: an apology letter and a resignation letter from her portifolio to make room for others better able to address the concerns of workers.


Issued by: Mainda Simataa


ELA General Secretary


For and on behalf of ISON, TECH and Allied Mobile workers,


Lusaka, Zambia