Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) has attributed the slow adoption of collective bargaining agreements in the workplace to unionistsâ€™ unconstructive approach to the issue.
The collective bargaining agreement spells out expectations of the employer and the employee in the workplace and ease dialogue between the two parties.
Ecam president Buxton Kayuni, speaking on the sidelines of a labour relations workshop on Friday in Malawiâ€™s commercial city, Blantyre, said employers understand the need for collective bargaining agreements in the workplace because it brings in the social dialogue between the employer and employee.
â€œThe response rate has been too low in Malawi because the approach taken by unionists is not constructive. They would want to push that agreement to the employer when it is supposed to be participatory. Through such mutual development of the agreement, both the employer and the employee will safeguard their interests,â€ he said at the workshop organised as a way of keeping stakeholders abreast of developments on the labour market.
While agreeing that most companies do not have these agreements, former chairperson of the Industrial Relations Court (IRC), Justice Rachel Sikwese, noted that some companiesÂ have loose agreements between employers and employees to direct them on certain issues.
She said collective bargaining agreements could also help reduce the number of dismissals in different workplaces when the economic situation is harsh.
â€œEveryone has the right to work, and you cannot dismiss employees solely on the ground that the economic situation is harsh. So employers need to manage economic situations within their workplace,â€ she said.
The workshop, according to Kayuni was also meant to look at the updates that have taken place in the labour market, including the new Pension Act and the amendment of the Employment Act and how they affect the workplace.
â€œThere have been a number of inconsistencies in terms of implementation of these laws in the workplace. It has always been believed that as employers, we understand everything but there are a lot of gaps among ourselves; hence, these periodic updates,â€ he said.
Some of the topics discussed during the day-long workshop included labour and industrial relations in the country, the legal perspective on dispute settlement, practical application of the Pension Act and freedom of association, collective bargaining and organisational rights.