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MCTU to protest controversial labour law

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The Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) has announced that it will hold demonstrations in major cities of the country in a bid to force President Lazarus Chakwera not to assent to the Labour Relations Act which Parliament passed last week.

MCTU Secretary General Madalitso Njolomole confirmed the development, saying the demonstrations would be held in Mzuzu, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Zomba this coming Thursday.

“We question the speed with which Parliament passed the bill without consultations with stakeholders, hence we are organising protests to ask President Lazarus Chakwera not to assent to the bill,” Njolomole told The Daily Times Sunday.

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He said all options remained open in case the President went ahead to assent to the bill.

Chakwera has 19 days to assent to the bill or not as he originally had 21 days to act on the bill from the day it was passed in Parliament, which is Thursday last week.

State House Press Secretary Brian Banda said in a separate interview that Chakwera would make an appropriate decision once the bill arrives on his desk.

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“The first thing that MCTU needed to do was to lobby members of Parliament not to pass it (the bill) but, as it is, Malawians have said yes to the bill through their representatives. Suffice to say that, as a listening president, President Chakwera will make a decision at an appropriate time when the bill arrives at his desk,” Banda said.

Several trade unions have voiced concerns over the passing of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill that, among others, provides that an employer cannot pay a worker on strike.

However, Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) has backed the provision.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labour has defended the recently amended Labour Relations Bill and Employment Bill, even as MCTU, Malawi Law Society and Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) have expressed reservations over the same.

Deputy Labour Minister Vera Kamtukule indicates, in a statement, that the ‘No Work, No Pay’ principle is not unique to Malawi as it is backed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

The ministry adds that it duly consulted MCTU and Ecam.

“It should be noted further that consultation does not necessarily have to result in consensus in order for government to proceed to take decision on any issue,” the statement reads.

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