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Covid-19 affects tobacco market seasonal workers

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TERESA NDANGA

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the local job market as several seasonal employees for tobacco market operator, AHL Group, could not be hired this season.

The Daily Times has established that for over a month, people have been flocking to the auction floors searching for jobs work but authorities say they already have satisfied their labor requirements.

One of them we spoke to at the Limbe Auction Floors on Monday, Stanley Egenio, said he came from Nsanje District for seasonal duties but has been told by managers to wait for an opening for over a month.

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“For over a month now they have not given us an opportunity to work. They only employed a few of our friends. We thought they will go by the president’s directive that no one will lose their job to Covid-19,” Egenio said.

Daniel Kapaya, another casual labourer from Thyolo District, said was promised to get a job once tobacco volumes getting to the market increases in May but to no avail.

AHL Communications Manager, Tereza Ndanga, said seasonal workers are engaged as and when work demands permit.

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“AHL Tobacco Sales is engaging the seasonal workers on the basis of volumes of tobacco that we are receiving and selling. Those that have not been engaged yet have been coming to our offices to inquire on the availability of jobs and not that we invited them.

“With the new tobacco auction system in the wake of Covid-19, we are selling slightly lower volumes at some markets such as Limbe. Some seasonal workers are being invited according to work demands,” Ndanga said.

Employers Consultative Association of Malawi Executive Director, George Khaki, said the situation is worsening and the future of businesses is uncertain due to the Covid-19.

He said this, coupled with uncertainty on the political environment may lead to reduction of workforce by most companies.

“Many companies are now retrenching, besides hospitality, tourism, aviation and education which were the first to experience blunt of the pandemic,” Khaki said.

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