8 September 2016 Last updated at: 7:27 AM

Ignorance on Malawi’s labour laws fueling abuse in work places

Ignorance of labour laws among most workers is a major contributor to abusive work environment which needs more sensitization to address, Office of the Trade Union in Northern Region says.

The Union’s regional organizer, Alexander Lungu, told Malawi News Agency (Mana) in an interview Monday that a lot of employers take advantage of their workers’ ignorance and start ill-treating them.

He said as such, most workers suffer in silence for fear of losing their jobs once they take the matter further.

CourtLungu gave a reference to what happened in Rumphi District recently where ladies working in a shop belonging to a Chinese National were sexually harassed by their boss, but they could not take the issue further for fear of being fired. He observed that most workers are not knowledgeable about labour laws.

“There was once a case (in Rumphi) where a Chinese National was touching his workers’ buttocks when they pass by him with luggage on their heads in the shop. I asked them why they didn’t report him to police; they said they feared they could be fired. So cases are [too] numerous to count,” said Lungu while flipping over documents of cases ranging from unfair dismissal to sexual harassment.

To address the problem, he said there is need for more sensitization (on labour laws) to be conducted to make working environments free from any abuse,” he said.

“So the bottom line is that the employers are aware of the laws, but they take advantage of their workers’ ignorance of these laws and start abusing them,” he said, adding that the few areas he had gone around to for sensitization in the region had shown that a lot of workers suffer in silence.He said his office has been facing challenges in reaching out to various workers in the region due to inadequate funding.

Lungu, on the other hand, said those that have been coming forward with cases such as unfair dismissal or being fired without notice have been assisted, especially in settling their damages.-Mana.