By Blessings Mpinganjira:
Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) has called off today’s demonstrations against the passing of the Labour Relations Act after meeting President Lazarus Chakwera Wednesday.
State House Press Officer Brian Banda said the President would make a decision after receiving and analysing the bill.
MCTU’s demonstrations were to take place in the four cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre, Mzuzu and Zomba against the passing of the bill which, the union argues, was passed without consultations.
MCTU President Charles Kumchenga said they had an open dialogue with the President Wednesday.
“We received the invitation to discuss our grievances with President Chakwera in the morning as we were preparing for Thursday’s demonstrations” he added.
On Tuesday, MCTU refused to meet Deputy Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule because they said she tabled the bill without the union’s contributions.
MCTU Secretary General Madalitso Njolomole said, following discussions with the President, the demonstrations were cancelled.
“We have cancelled the demonstrations but we will still engage with State House on the way forward,” Njolomole said.
During the meeting, Chakwera was accompanied by Kamtukule and Homeland Security Minister Richard Chimwendo Banda.
The amended bill allows employees to go on strike only for three days in a year if they have grievances with their employer.
According to the passed bill, employees will not be paid for the rest of the days that they will be on a strike after the prescribed three days.
Meanwhile, the International Trade Union Confederation has written Chakwera asking him not to assent to the bill.
“The passing of the Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill 2021 without consultations is an abrogation by your government of its international obligation,” read the letter dated 14 July 2021.
“Mr President, we call on you not to assent to the bill and refer it back to the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council for meaningful and thorough consultation, taking into account the technical advice of the ILO [International Labour Organisation],” adds the letter signed by Kwasi Adu-Amankwah and Sharan Burrow, General Secretary and President of the group, respectively.