As Malawi joins the rest of the world in commemorating Labour Day which falls on 1st May, Minister of Labour, Skills and Innovation, Lilian Patel has cautioned employers who will fraught workplace guidelines that have been put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Patel said it is a violation of workers’ rights and against labour laws for any employer to impose unilateral decisions in dealing with covid-19 pandemic and its impact.
Speaking during a media briefing held in commemoration of World Labour Day, on Thursday in Lilongwe, Patel emphasized on the need for employers to safeguard the lives of workers.
She said the labour laws will be utilized on any employer who will not safeguard the lives of the workers during this period.
Patel appealed to employers to avoid termination of jobs and only to be considered as a last resort after all options provided in the guidelines have been exhausted.
Malawi government through the Ministry of Health has set workplace guidelines which are to be followed during this period of COVID-19.
Some of the guidelines include, following proper methods of hygiene and decongesting the workplace by allowing employees to work in shifts hence observing social distancing.
The theme for this year’s labour day commemoration is ‘Achieving sustainable jobs, incomes and social protection in the wake of COVID-19′.
According to Patel, the theme is befitting given the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in workplaces.
She said inorder to mitigate the impact of the pandemic in the event of job losses, government has come up with sectoral recommendations for protecting jobs.
The President of the Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU), Luther Mambala commended government for the workplace guidelines put in place, urging government to ensure that implementation of these guidelines is followed.
He called upon government to set up a comprehensive social protection system that can cushion workers regardless of their employment status.
“Workers at the lower end of the wage bracket, the poor, the aged, the physically challenged, women and the youth including informal workers and their economic units are majory the ones failing to cope with the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic,” he said.
Mambala said while MCTU appreciates the impact of Covid-19 on the economy of the country, he urged all employers to ensure that jobs are fully protected.
“All decisions taken on Jobs should be based on social dialogue, so that no worker in Malawi should lose their jobs because of this pandemic. As social partners, we must all rise in ensuring protection of jobs and promotion of workers’ rights amidst this pandemic,” he said.
The International Labour Organization estimates that up to 1.6 billion workers in the informal economy, might lose their jobs due to the pandemic while in Malawi, it is estimated that close to 1.5 Million workers might lose jobs due to the Pandemic.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :