Govt commits to creating enabling environment for workers in tobacco sector

Malawi Labour official

Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Labour says it is committed to ensuring that there is decent work for workers in the tobacco sector.

The remarks were made by Hlalerwayo Kelvin Nyangulu who is the Labour Commissioner in the Ministry of Labour, during a workshop of strengthening knowledge of labour laws, issues and compliance which took place on Friday in Lilongwe.

Speaking at the meeting, Nyangulu said as Government right now they have a project which aims at addressing decent work deficit in tobacco sector and promoting rights in the tobacco sector.

“In 2021 the employment act was ammended and we actually abolished tenants labour in Malawi. So Government is really committed to ensure that we have decent work in the tobacco sector.

“What is important now is that a decision has been made, a law has been enacted so what is happening is that as I speak tenants labour is abolished in Malawi. As you may know tenants labour was providing fertile ground for child labour, it was also providing fertile ground for forced labour now that it is abolished that’s why we are talking about developing standard contracts that will define the relationship between employer and the worker in the tobacco sector,” said Nyangulu.

According to Nyangulu, one of the things they are pushing right now is that workers in the tobacco sector should be paid monthly wages.

“You see tobbaco is produced by smallholder farmers and large estate owners. We have seen that some farmers are complaining that they cannot afford to pay the monthly wages but since we have the law, we just need to find ways how these farmers can be empowered so that they comply with the law,” said Nyangulu.

In his remarks, Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM) Executive Director George Khaki said the purpose of the meeting was to inform participants about international labour standards which have a bearing on the labour and employment laws in the country, so that when companies are working with employees they know which laws guide them to manage the contract as well as have an appreciation of international Labour convention.

“What has prompted us to do this is that as ECAM under ILO we carried out a training needs assessment and one of the things that was highlighted there was that many companies or personnel campanies are not aware of international Labour standards. Actually, it was 62 percent of them who indicated that they were not aware of international Labour standards,”.

“So we thought it this was a good platform for us to bring the knowledge on international Labour standards today, but we are also trying to promote the use of standard contracts we know that tenants labour was abolished in 2021 in the employment act which means there will be normal employment relationship for players in the tobacco and to facilitate that, we are developing a standard contract that can be adopted and be used by the majority of players that do not have capability to develop contrasts,” said Khaki.

Commenting on the same, MCTU Secretary General Madalitso Njolomole said the workshop is very important because it is going to enhance employers capacity in terms of Malawi labour and international Labour standards and it is going to smoothen the relationship between the workers and employers.