UTM Unima wing abhors Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill, claims hostile to students

UTM students wing at the University of Malawi (UNIMA), previously known as Chancellor College, has issued a strongly-worded statement reprimanding the Tonse Alliance government for initiating amendments to the Labour Relations Bill law, seeking to restrict workers from holding a strike based on employment grievances.

The statement issued on Thursday, July 8, 2021, and signed by President of the wing, Charles Dokera and General Secretary, Chawezi Phiri, says government wants to “gradually ruin our democracy through repressive laws”.

Vera Kamtukule – Deputy Labour Minister presented the Bill in parly

Ironically, the UTM, is led by Republican State Vice President Saulos Klaus Chilima in the Tonse Alliance government set up.

The students decry the attempts by President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera administration’s move to use the law as an instrument to oppress the workers “by giving employers much power to cut off salary to the striking workers”.

“We are extremely shocked, dazed and stunned with the actions of our government on the future of our democracy. The government has defeated us with its unreasonable and retrogressive as well as undemocratic laws it is prepared to legislate,” reads the statement in part.

The students fear that the proposed changes in the Labour Relations Law would affect them as prospective employees, who would be denied the right to stage strikes to express employment related grievances.

“We promise not to be puppets of our masters, not to be bootlickers and not handicappers. We will not be blind followers. Our political affiliation did not usurp our intellectual abilities to stand against unreasonableness,” says the statement.

However, a legal expert argues that the Labour Relations (Amendment) Act does not bans strikes.

Preferring anonymity, the lawyer argues that this is a misrepresentation.

‘The Bill does no such thing. It simply says that if you decide to strike, then beyond a number of days, the employer should not be obliged to pay you. Under the current practice, people can stay away from work forever, doing no work, and then still happily go and get their pay cheque at the end of the month.

“The Constitution guarantees the right to withdraw labour. Not the right to free wages. Just like no stranger can show up at your door stop and demand that you hand over your money to him, no one should demand wages for no work.

“The relationship between the employer and the employee is governed by contract law. This imports rights and obligations. The employee’s core duty is to work. And the employer’s core duty is to provide work and to pay for it.

“If you decide not to work, you breach your core duty under the contract and the employer has no obligation to pay you. I don’t see anything outrageous in a law making this position explicit,” he says.

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Gebuza
Gebuza
1 year ago

Mkanakhala ena a utm mukana wauza a chanko anuwo chifukwa si achakwera okha a kupanga mfundozi ayi amapagila limadzi ndi chilima. Msade a chakwera okhao ayi.

Chilambowandu
Chilambowandu
1 year ago

That lawyer should know that authorized abscence gets paid and terms and conditions including other applicable laws though not specifically mentioned in the contract, they form part of the contract agreement. Moreover strikes do not just come but it’s a process in which both parties are involved.
If we are importing laws they need to be contextualized to ensure that their effect do not make one party in the contract more stronger than the other especially the one who is already stronger by virtue of their status

Concerned citizen
Concerned citizen
1 year ago

But this so-called lawyer must be good-for-nothing, I don’t know which school or college did he attend. No wonder he has asked for anonymity, how can someone whose rights have been infringed and just stay quiet without expressing her or his concerns. Malawians are not the same as those who this MCP used to ill-treat during Kamuzu era. Malawians are now watching each and every step which TonseAlliance Government is trying to move

Chosadziwa
1 year ago

When president Chakwera rose to power I was excited that now Malawi for the first time will be led by the man of God who will protect and defend his people in all sectors, little did I know that he is not like that but an oppressor. We are watching all his moves and actions. The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know, if President Chakwera will sign this bill into law that’s when we will know who Chakwera really is. My advice to you your Excellency if you really need to be the president of… Read more »

Hawell
1 year ago

That legal expert is useless and senseless person after all is one of those who are behind the amendment. If i ask that expert say if employers do not sort out the grievances of their employees after a month strike how possible will it be to answer their concerns in three days and thereafter continue working for the employer? Do you see any sense here! Izi ndi nkhanza za phwee za MCP and Tonse alliance sitilolasitilola kubwerera ku ulamuliro wankhanza wa Malawi Congress Party No! Bwana Bakili Muluzi stand up for us since you are the father of Democracy tawonani… Read more »

Yonas
Yonas
1 year ago

The legal mind has given a fair contextual interpretation of the law…it fair. I was fuming before i red the Article….no work no pay…strike for one week, grievances heard ?? Ok…go to work wait a month and go for strike again…so the cycle goes…striking in fases…

Concerned citizen
Concerned citizen
1 year ago

I could have loved if Nyasa Times had also sought the views of a lawyer with the contrary view, in order to balance the legal opinions. The laws are drafted by legal gurus yes, but at times we have seen some laws being repealed for various reasons; even being called bad laws at times by fellow reputable lawyers. What does this tell us? People can draft laws which may not represent the aspirations of the nation; even if such laws are internationally acceptable elsewhere because the laws would differ depending on the systems of governments being practised. Even in a… Read more »

laws
laws
1 year ago

Then go back and recheck on legal and illegal strikes on employment act 2000,if the strike takes long then it means both sides have not come to a breakeven point.Why should the Tonse alliance set an expiry date when both sides have not reached the point of clearing their dispute?

Wakwiya ndi Kadeti
1 year ago

Lazy Malawians want to paid for doing nothing. Rights have a limit. Freedom has a limit. Employers have rights. If you stop production where do you think the employer would get money to pay you? Wanyake are connecting strikes to protests. The whole Yeremia Chihana mahala walije.

Banda
Banda
1 year ago

Students should blame their lecturers who were on strike for six months receiving full pay. Students have the option to seek relief from the courts by way of an injunction to stop the implementation.

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