Malawi Parliament has passed the Labour Relations Amendment bill which gives employers the right to deduct wages of striking employees.
Both the Labour Relations (Amendment) bill and the Employment (Amendment) bill contain the provision on strike and were tabled in Parliament this afternoon.
The Labour Relations (Amendment) bill provides for an employer’s right to deduct wages from an employee who is on strike. Employees will be paid for the first three days of strike per year but after the three days of strike are used up, wages will be deducted from the employees .
The bill also clarifies the categories of essential services to which the right to strike and lockdown does not apply. The new law further does away with the requirement of employer and employee panelists in the Industrial Relations Court.
Opposition Members of Parliament opposed the tabling of the bill saying it infringes on the right of employees to take industrial action.
Member of Parliament for Mulanje Central Kondwani Nankhumwa who is also Leader of Opposition said the bill should be sent back to be redrafted.
He noted that at the time of the debate, labour unions were demonstrating against the bill and they also presented a petition to Parliament.
“If the bill is passed what will come of the petition. I call upon the Tonse Alliance government to consider the plight of Malawians,” said Nankhumwa.
Member of Parliament for Thyolo Central Ben Phiri said the government is ignoring the voice of the voiceless. He further said consultations should be done on the bill before taking it to Parliament.
There were also concerns that the bill was aimed at choking operations of the Industrial Relations Court
However, Deputy Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule defended the bill saying the concept of “no work no pay” does not restrict people from striking.
She added that international best practices provide that unions collect money from members and this money is used to pay workers when they are striking.
“People are free to strike as they want but during this period the employer will not pay them,” she said. “Union members should take their union leaders to account for the money that they are collecting.”
Kamtukule further argued that consultations for the bill were made.
After MPs voted to curtail debate on the bill, opposition members walked out of the House. This allowed government MPs to pass the Labour Relations Amendment bill.
MPs also later passed the Employment (Amendment) bill which abolishes tenancy labour and places a K5 million fine on those flouting the provision.