Players in the tobacco and employment sectors have hailed the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Norwegian Government for taking an initiative to improve working conditions and access to rights in the country’s tobacco sector.
The development follows a $2 million (about K1.5 billion) grant agreement signed between the Government of Norway and ILO to support the Government of Malawi and employers and workers’ organisations to address decent work deficits in the tobacco sector.
Norwegian Embassy in Malawi deputy head of mission Ørnulf Strøm said in a statement that the new project is aligned to the strategic priorities of development cooperation between Norway and Malawi.
This includes a focus on the agriculture sector and respect for human rights, as well as Norway’s global development cooperation priorities regarding the elimination of modern slavery and child labour.
ILO director for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique George Okutho said the agreement is built on the strong foundation established by the ILO’s global integrated strategy to address decent work deficits in the tobacco sector.
He said: “This is further framed by the Alliance 8.7 global multi-stakeholder action platform to eliminate modern slavery, child labour, forced labour and human trafficking, for which Malawi is a pathfinder country.”
On his part, Tama Farmers Trust chief executive officer Nixon Lita admitted that the tobacco industry still has issues with agricultural labour practices.
Employers Consultative Association of Malawi executive director George Khaki described the project as timely, saying Malawi is committed to eradicating all forms of child labour.
Malawi Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Denis Kalekeni said the country’s tobacco industry is at stake due to child and forced labour; hence, the need to employ initiatives that will sanitise the industry.
The tobacco sector’s employment remains a contentious issue as mostly employees get paid less at the end of the year to afford a decent life.