Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) has taken Petroda Malawi Limited to task over escalating incidences of labour-related human rights violations.
This follows a recent video clip circulating on social media and other platforms allegedly showing Petroda Malawi manager at Chitukuko filling station coercively undressing and strip-searching a Malawian worker having accused him of theft.
In a statement made available to Nyasa Times, HRDC Chairperson Gift Trapence calls the action by Petroda Malawi Limited as clearly degrading and inhumane treatment not befitting of the intrinsic dignity of a human being, and it is also patently illegal.
“It is a form of white-collar mob justice in which employers take it upon themselves to punish and violate their employees by humiliation. In a country of laws, suspects of crimes, small or large, are handed to the police, who themselves must adhere to due process and human rights standard following thorough investigations and under the direction of the judiciary which is the sole authority in Malawi empowered to dispensation penalties,” reads the statement.
Unfortunately, reads the statement, such malpractices and abuses are widespread in Malawi with the incident in question as an isolated one.
Trapence further said the culture of impunity and contempt for Malawian or local workers by some foreign business owners is afoot.
“The warm, peaceable and non-confrontational national character and culture of Malawi and of most Malawian workers must not become license for their inhumane, cruel and dehumanizing treatment.
“We therefore reiterate, reaffirm and reassert to all engaged in this business culture of cruelty the full entitlement of Malawian and indeed all workers within these borders to inalienable dignity, respect and protection,” reads the statement also co-signed by HRDC National Coordinator Luke Tembo and regional Chairpersons.
Further, the Coalitions said additional dimensions of this culture of cruelty include sexual harassment, assault and victimization especially of female workers; low wages vis-à-vis the value of returns per worker; the lack of Person Protection Equipment (PPE) for hazardous to workers’ personnel health and safety; and other violations of labour rights and laws.
“Considering the above, HRDC issues this Warning and Alert to all employers engaged in these human rights violations to immediately cease such practices. We celebrate, and see no ills, of living within a diverse society of numerous cultures, local and international. These are just the sorts of arrangements that enrich a society.
“We however would like to highlight this cruelty and caution those who would see that diversity translates into a stratified society of the humanized and dehumanized; in which some groups, by virtue of their employer status and business strip especially locals of their inherent dignity and respect. We will not tolerate this,” said Trapence.
Among other things, Trapence ha urged all Malawians who continue to suffer in silence to report all matters to the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC), the Office of the Ombudsman as well as to the nearest labour office and expect an immediate change of conduct among employers, failing which HRDC will mobilize Malawians to boycott buying branded products or services of such employers including Petroda Malawi
“We will not hesitate to demand and support the immediate arrest even demand for deportation of those whose business owners who persist with these abuses, and we will actively call, through a mass mobilization of labour and unions for demonstrations against the abusive practices of such employers,” reads part of the statement.
He added, “the days of weighing conferred privileges in business, politics, governance or any other sector, above human rights are over. We must all understand that regardless of anybody’s station in life, all people are deserving of decency and dignity, and that all relations particularly those between vulnerable people like the Petroda worker /employee and powerful institutions or companies, must be underwritten by an adherence to and a doctrine of human rights.
“This is the only standard by which all of us, regardless of our socioeconomic status will enjoy equal security and fair opportunities in our society. The undressing or stripping of an employee at Petroda thus stands categorically condemned not just by our statement but by virtue of the dispensation and era we all live in, and the societal goals to which we strive.”Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :