Collaboration Needed to Address Work Deficits in Tobacco Sector – Capital Radio Malawi
24 July, 2024

Collaboration Needed to Address Work Deficits in Tobacco Sector

Collaboration Needed to Address Work Deficits in Tobacco Sector

Minister of Labour, Agnes Nyalonje says a report which National Statistical Office (NSO) has launched indicates that the country needs collaborative efforts from stakeholders and government in order to address work deficits and rights of workers in the tobacco sector.

Speaking in Lilongwe on Friday during the launch of the report on the survey of Tenant Growers in Malawi’s Tobacco Industry, Nyalonje said the country is comprised of people whose majority are the youth, as such the issue of tenancy labour needs to be addressed if Malawi is to achieve inclusive wealth by 2063.

She said that tobacco industry is one of the biggest employers in Malawi hence workers in the sector needs to be protected against the challenges they face.

“In 2021, the government amended an employment Act to abolish the tenancy labour in the tobacco industry. When you pass a law, the implementation is a process which requires a baseline of information. So in 2022, the government through the ministry of labour commissioned the study which NSO carried out. The report is a confirmation of why the government was committed to abolish tenancy labour.

“Our president, Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera has audibly indicated that Agriculture is one of the pillars that can take the country into 2063. ATM aims at improving the productivity and commercialization in agriculture sector.  So Malawi being a country full of young people, it means tenancy labour has not spared them. Therefore, there is need to address the issue of tenancy labour if we are to improve decent work in this sector,”

Nyalonje also added that the country has been struggling to deal with issues of tenancy labour because many Malawians take the issue as culture, as such it becomes difficult to change the people’s way of life.

Director of International Labour Organizations (ILO), Wellington Chibebe said the report by NSO has uncovered instances of harassments which needs to be quickly addressed for workers in tobacco sector to enjoy international labour laws.

He said the issue of child labour, land ownership, working conditions portray the existence of modern slavery, as such stakeholders should work hand in hand to abolish tenancy labour.

“The report has highlighted key areas relating to strategic decent work which include incidences of forced and child labour, food insecurity, household financial accessibility, and land ownership. In addition, the survey has also provided tenets that needs clear understanding of the issue at hand. The report has challenged us all to focus and do the needful in making sure that decent work is legal in Malawi following the abolishment of tenancy labour in 2021,” He said.

In his remarks, Executive Director for Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (ECAM), George Khaki said the report is commendable because it will help to focus on areas of improvement in as far as policy implementation is concerned.

The report on the survey on Tenant Growers in Malawi’s Tobacco Industry was conducted in 2022 in tobacco growing 15 districts.

The report indicates that 42.3 percent of children between ages of 5-17 engage in child labour, 99 percent of tenant growers lack knowledge on the importance of joining Trade Unions, and 75.9 percent of tenants are not informed in deductions that incur from inputs.

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