Malawi President Joyce Banda is set to join a march as part of this year’s celebrations to mark the International Labour Day which falls on May 1 before presiding over the event at Kamuzu Stadium upper ground in Blantyre.
The President becomes only a second sitting Head of State since Malawi attained multiparty democracy in 1993 to take part in commemorating the day after former president Bakili Muluzi.
The late president Bingu wa Mutharika on several occasions snubbed the commemoration.
The commemoration of the International Labour Day comes amid rising cost of living, high unemployment rate and disagreements between the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) and government over plans to export labour to South Korea, Kuwait and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
Malawi will this year commemorate the day under the theme ‘Malawi addressing decent work deficits through a living wage amid socioeconomic and political challenges’.
MCTU president Muwake Chauluka in an interview said currently there are a lot of challenges to achieving targets of the Decent Work Country Programme which sets out four pillars of job creation, guaranteed rights at work, extending social contract and promoting social dialogue.
Said Chauluka: “These are issues we will be bringing up on Wednesday [today]. Government should be able (sic) to do what the decent work agenda sets and that has to be achieved. For instance, government is talking of exporting labour to South Korea and other countries, but we were not consulted.
“There are issues of salaries. Are our young men and women going to be employed as expatriates or locals? What are the conditions of service?”
On the President’s presence, he said MCTU is pleased that the President deemed it appropriate to interact and recognise workers in the country.
“We feel her presence will boost morale of the workers. But we want the President to give directions to her government and the private sector on issues of minimum wage which has been outstanding for a long time,” said Chauluka.
The day’s celebrations start with a march from Blantyre Old Town Hall via Masauko Chipembere Highway to Kamuzu Stadium upper ground.
Drama, comedy, poetry and traditional dances, among others, will spice up the event.