Tea Association of Malawi (TAM) has blamed the slow progress made in achieving decent work for all in the sector on government’s failure to adopt International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention 190 and recommendation 206.
Convention 190 provides for specific measures to address gender-based violence and harassment. It acknowledges that gender-based violence and harassment disproportionately affects women and girls.
The association’s chairperson Sangwani Munthali said, in an interview, that on their part they are taking actions to end labour-related injustices to ensure decent work for all, but lamented that the actions fall-short of ILO backing.
Munthali said: “The outstanding issue remains the adoption of the ILO Convention 190 and recommendation 206. This broadens workers’ rights at the work place.
“Our discussions are that government needs to first adopt these recommendations and thereafter we agree how best to enforce these. We are worried that the process has been slow.”
Deputy Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule admitted in an interview this week that decent work issues in the tea sector remain a concern. For example, she mentioned non-payment of overtime in tea estates.
She said the ministry was consulting and working with technocrats on the adoption of the ILO Convention and recommendations, to address the concerns.
“In some instances, there are issues of non-compliance to the minimum wage payment to workers. The concern really is on the lower cadres who are not given contracts despite working for so many years, they are still regarded as casual labourers without conditions of service,” said Kamtukule.
She explained that the ministry is continuously engaging and lobbying with tea estates, companies and workers’ unions to address the issues for the betterment of both workers and employers benefit.
Minister of Gender Patricia Kaliati expressed worry about continued abuse of workers’ rights, where women are not given equal economic opportunities with men.
She observed that in some cases women are given low wages compared to their male counterparts despite performing equal amounts of work, thereby creating economic inequalities in the sector.
There remain concerns on the soliciting of indecent work in the tea sector, characterised by abuse of women and girls, including children who are reportedly included in the labour force.
The Convention 190 compels each member State which ratifies the Convention to respect, promote and realise the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment.
Each member is compelled to adopt, in accordance with national law and circumstances and in consultation with representative employers’ and workers’ organisations, an inclusive, integrated and gender-responsive approach for the prevention and elimination of violence and harassment in the world of work.