The Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) has condemned reported cases of abuse of Malawian workers by Chinese managers of Anghui Foreign Economic Construction Company at the national stadium construction site in Lilongwe.
In a statement, MCTU secretary general Pontius Kalichero has since called upon government, business, religious, labour and civic organisations to work together to help workers defend their dignity and claim their rights.
He said while MCTU appreciates Chinese government support to Malawi Government’s infrastructural development programmes, the union is aware that the stadium case exposed in the past week, is only one of the too many cases across the country where foreigners exploit and abuse Malawian workers through unjust transactions.
“It is unfortunate that the employers resort to their own means not favourable to workers as a way of solving problems instead of engaging in proper dialogue with the workers,” said Kalichero.
He said exploitation of working people, whether subtle or obvious, injures workers’ humanity and denies them their sense of inherent dignity.
According to Kalichero, there is no justification whatsoever neither in denying workers to access toilets, beating them, nor giving them first aid when injured.
“This is oppressive and retrogressive on the part of Malawi Government and Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company. We implore government to take this matter seriously as its silence on bad working conditions and workers’ rights will be ominous and disheartening,” he added.
Kalichero also said government should direct all investors in the country to engage themselves with the Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) to run them through the workers industrial and labour laws before their projects commence.
He also said government should also not overlook its responsibility as a protector of its citizens, by ensuring that the labour laws are adhered to.
“MCTU is looking into organising the workers at the national stadium site with a view of bringing workers together to speak and act collectively to protect their rights and pursue the common good,” he said.