Communication Workers Union of Malawi (COWUMA) has decried the recent retrenchment at one of the Malawi’s oldest media giant, Times Media Group (formerly Blantyre Newspapers Limited) and has since taken up the matter with Ministry of Labour.
The Times Group announced that it was downsizing its staff compliment as part of its re-organization and rationalizing of its processes in the light of the hostile economic environment facing the country.
The restructuring has seen some 28 employees being laid off while some 35 employees previously hired as casuals or interns have had their positions regularized as permanent employees.
But COWUMA in its statement on Friday, while lamenting the retrenchment, argues that Times Media Group – formerly Blantyre Newspapers Limited – has been turning down an offer to set up a workers union, which will help in reorganizing the institution.
“In what they are calling a restructuring process, [Times Group] has retrenched 28 workers including some senior managers. This has been the trend at [Times Group] for ages now; they retrench people almost every year. They have been refusing to let COWUMA organize the place. [Times Group] knows that once the place is organized; they will not be able to do what they are doing now,” reads the statement.
And in an interview with Nyasa Times, COWUMA president Deus Sandram said they have taken up the issue with Ministry of Labour, saying the Times Group management flouted procedures when retrenching its workers.
“W e want to see the procedures followed when retrenching the workers. We feel the procedure was not fair. We are more than ready to intervene,” he said.
COWUMA is a body that represents all workers in the communication sector Printing, Media, Packaging, Courier and Telecommunication.
Times Media Group boasts of chain of companies including five titles namely; The Daily Times, Malawi News, Business Times, The Sunday Times, Weekend Times and quarterly magazine Times Life Style.
Managing Director for the Company, Leonnard Chikadya, said he regretted that the company has been forced to discontinue certain unprofitable lines and merge certain functions in order to remain afloat.
As part of the restructuring, the company will have a new organizational structure and new job descriptions to reflect the new roles.