Malawi on Tuesday joined the rest of the world in commemorating the Labour Day which falls on the first day of May every year.
Speaking during the celebrations, President Joyce Banda said her administration “values the contributions of all the workers in this country both past and present.”
The celebrations in Blantyre, whose theme was “Malawi Addressing Decent Work Deficits through a Living Wage amidst social, economic and political challenges”, attracted various stakeholders who included government ministries and departments and several private and public companies.
President Banda described the theme as relevant and befitting the occasion because it reflected the times Malawi is passing through.
“Development can never be divorced from the worker. It is for this reason that my Government has placed labour and employment at the top of the national development agenda,” she emphasized.
According to the Malawi leader, her government’s vision is to eradicate poverty through economic growth and wealth creation.
“We intend to achieve this by transforming the structure of our economy, accelerating job creation and protecting the vulnerable,” said the President.
“This is because this Government understands that there is a stubborn link between poverty, population growth, malnutrition, maternal health and education and decent income.
“And that the biggest threats to governance, growth and human rights are poverty, lack of opportunity and lack of hope,” she pointed out.
President Banda said her Government launched the Economic Recovery Plan “to create conducive environment for good governance, economic growth and opportunities for work and incomes so that our people can have hope for a better life.”
Further, Banda said government is implementing the Malawi Decent Work Country Programme which seeks to address decent work deficits in all their forms, including wages.
Labour and employment are primary objectives of the Economic Recovery Plan as we emphasize economic growth with job creation.
“My Government, therefore, has plans to expand and improve technical and vocational education, among other initiatives,” said President Banda.
“I am also pleased to note that the country will not long from now have its first ever employment policy. A draft is being finalized.
“The policy shall be a coordinating tool for employment creation. The policy will encourage the promotion of job creation and also provide for the regulation of labour migration,” she clarified.
As a way of supporting the ultra-poor to secure means of livelihood, President Banda said her government will continue to implement the labour intensive public works programmes and also carry out other initiatives such as the Farm Input Subsidy Programme targeting the poor, generally, to achieve inclusive growth.
On wage improvement, President Banda said her government believes in a living wage, explaining that good faith should be the guiding principle of any negotiations and the lowly paid have to be given special attention.
“In fact, that is why Government reviews minimum wage as and when need arises,” she said.
She took the opportunity of the celebrations to appeal to all workers for patience and understanding “because for our dream of economic recovery to be realized, there is need for all of us to work together and make some sacrifices.”
“As Government, we have the duty of balancing between the needs of the workers on the one hand and the performance of the companies as well as the impact of any wage increment on the economy, on the other hand.
“In view of these divergent and sometimes conflicting demands, it becomes difficult for all the parties to be equally satisfied with the outcome of any wage negotiations. The ideal, however, is a living wage whereby the wage is enough to meet expenses for the basic needs of the worker,” she emphasized.
She acknowledged that Malawi’s economy has been going through some of the toughest times in its history.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :