Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and Alliance for Democracy (Aford) walked out of Parliament yesterday in protest of government’s move to have the Labour Relations Act Amendment Bill and Employment Act Amendment Bill passed.
The amendment of Labour Relations Act Section 46 seeks to empower employers to deduct wages from workers who are on strike.
The two parties wanted the Bill to be suspended for thorough consultation arguing “the people were against the Bill.”
However, government went ahead to pass the Bill.
The government side accused DPP of playing politics, saying the party championed the Bill when it was in power.
Addressing the press after walking out of Parliament, Leader of Opposition Kondwani Nankhumwa said the Bill is oppressive.
He said people are against the Bill and there was need for government to reconsult on the amendment proposal.
Nankhumwa said he suspected a hidden agenda by government for pushing to have the Bill passed.
He said: “We have walked out in solidarity with the people outside there who are protesting the Bill. The people should know that the opposition is not in support of the Bill.”
Nankhumwa was referring to the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) who had earlier in the day petitioned Parliament to suspend the Bill and consider holding consultations.
The union in a petition said the Bill is oppressive as it limits workers to three days of strike in a year and that employees that go beyond the three days are to have their pay deducted.
MCTU was also against removal of employees and employers among the panellist of the Industrial Relations Court.
While the only Tonse Alliance member, who also walked out of Parliament, Yeremiah Chihana said despite that he is in the alliance, he will not support “dictatorship kind of ruling.”
He said: “We are not only violating rights of workers but also their children, parents and others that depend on them. MCP is getting back to dictatorship rule and I will not support it.”
But Leader of the House in Parliament Richard Chimwendo Banda said DPP should own the Bill because it came up with it.
He also said consultations were made and labour unions should not claim that there were no consultations.
Said Chimwendo Banda: “The Bill will benefit employers, workers’ unions and the government. It will promote productivity,” he said.