Japan Tobacco International (JTI) has donated two vehicles and two Motor cycle to Ministry of Labour at a function which took place at BICC in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe.
Handing over the donation , JTI Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications Limbani Kakhome said the vehicles will help to ease mobility challenges, which the ministry is facing.
Kakhome said in 2019, JTI conducted a Supply Chain Impact Assessment that identified tenancy as a key human rights risk in the supply chain.
He said in order to address the risks, the company instituted several measures to address the issues of tenancy while complimenting government’s move to have the tenancy issue abolished all together.
He said in line with this, JTI distributed farm record books to all its contracted growers to enable them to track working hours of farm employees, payment of monthly minimum wage and ensure that all farm employees on JTI contracted farms have written contracts.
According to Kakhome, the company rolled out a workers’ rights campaign in 2021 to raise awareness about rights of workers on all JTI contracted farms.
Kakhome said the vehicles were being used at the flagship ARISE project.
“We have a history of responding to human rights risks—including child labour in our supply chain. Our flagship child labour program launched in 2011 called “Achieving Reduction of Child Labour in Support of Education” – ARISE in short – was developed to help prevent and eliminate child labour in the tobacco-growing communities where JTI directly contracts growers.
Kakhome commended Government for training all agronomy field staff on labour standards as they are front liners in ensuring that these standards are met.
“And today, we are here to officially launch labour inspections and donate two motor vehicles and two motorcycles as enablers of the inspections. We happy to inform you Honourable Minister that JTI will provide running costs for the vehicles for one year.
We are always grateful for the support we receive from the Ministry, and we pledge to continue working with them for the betterment of the industry,” he said.
Receiving the donation, Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule commended JTI for the donation
Kamtukule said the government of Malawi through her Ministry is appreciative of the gesture by JTI Leaf Malawi for the gift of vehicles and motorcycles which will go a long way to solve some of the mobility problems the officers in the Ministry face in carrying their duties especially in the field offices.
She said it is not a secret that the officers in the field offices face a lot of mobility challenges to effectively discharge their duties.
“The support that JTI Leaf Malawi has provided today is a sign of true partnership. This is the way to go if we are to address many challenges that confront us. Our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is bearing the fruits. Through this MOU, we are assured of accelerating training of Agronomy officers on labour standards and enhance labour inspections in the grower farms of JTI Leaf Malawi impact districts.” She said.
The Minister said the tobacco industry is very important for the country as it remains the main forex earner.
“We therefore need to protect our tobacco from being contaminated by child labour, forced labour, bonded labour and modern day slavery practices. If we fail to do so, our tobacco will lose competitiveness at the international market or worse still buyers will completely shun our tobacco.”