ITUC, ITUC-Africa slam Chakwera for taking draconian laws to Parliament
"It came as a surprise that your government, without meaningful and genuine tripartite consultation, went on to present the bill to Parliament, where it was fast-tracked and adopted on 7 July, 2021"
International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and International Trade Union Confederation for the African Region (ITUC-Africa) have condemned President Dr Lazarus Chakwera for bulldozing the enactment of the Labour Relations Amendment Bill and the Emplyment Amendment Bill in the Parliament without thoroughly consulting the nation's Tripartite Labour Advisory Council (ITLAC).
According to a letter the two organisations have co-written to the Malawi leader, the bills were arbitrarily dragged to Parliament to be passed without technical consultations with relevant stakeholders such as the Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU).
"The ITUC is reliably informed by affiliate union, the Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU), that the Labour Relations Amendment Bill was last discussed by tripartite partners in 2018 and was shelved. It then came as a surprise that your government, without meaningful and genuine tripartite consultation, went on to present the bill to Parliament, where it was fast-tracked and adopted on 7 July, 2021, despite strong rejection by the opposition political parties and days of widespread protests against adoption of the bills by the trade unions - protests led by the Malawi Congress of Trade Union and the civil society at large," reads the letter in part.
The organisations have further reminded Chakwera that the passing of the bills, without consultations, is an abrogation by his government of international obligation.
The letter further reads: "Mr President, your country is a party to the ILO Convention on Tripartite Consultations (International Labour Standards), 1976, (No. 144), which requires consultations to be taken between tripartite partners. The passing of the Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the Employment (Amendment) Bill 2021 without consultations is an abrogation by your government of its international obligation. We find it incomprehensible and unacceptable that a government that ascended to power through popular participatory resistance would engineer a paternalistic legislative process in such a brazen manner."
The organisations have, therefore, called upon President Chakwera not to assent to the bills but to refer them back to the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council for meaningful and thorough consultation, taking into account technical advice of the International Labour Organisation (ILO.
Last week, the Malawi Parliament passed Labour Relations Amendment Bill and Employment Amendment Bill amid strong resistance from the opposition members who described the same as oppressive and retrogressive bills.