Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) urge government and employers to ensure that no Jobs are lost and also that Social Dialogue between employers and employees should guide actions to be taken by parties. On the part of workers MCTU strongly advise workers to follow the guidelines because they will allow Malawi to defeat Covid 19.
Malawi Congress of Trade Union wishes to appreciate the measure that the government of Malawi is setting to deal with Covid 19. MCTU applauds the government for coming up with the lockdown measure, this will save a lot of lives from contracting the virus. However MCTU wishes to remind government of the recommendations that were brought to its attention for consideration if lockdown was enforced. Malawi is one of the poorest counties in the world and citizens find income based on what they make on a daily basis. The lockdown is good for the lives of the citizens and workers but is it also harmful by considering how they will access daily food and other necessities.
MCTU therefore wishes to remind and urge government and Employers to seriously consider the following recommendations in the wake of the announced lockdown.
- Government should provide some financial packages, cash transfers and supplying free food to vulnerable workers and the general citizenry especially those in the rural areas and informal economy in order to survive the negative impacts of Covid 19 and its subsequent lockdown.
- Government should increase the testing centers for the Covid 19 across the country and in high risk areas it should consider making it compulsory, so that detection is made at an early stage at which it can easily be contained.
- In addition Government should intensify awareness raising campaigns on Covid 19 and its impact.
- Government should also ensure that all health workers and essential service providers’ workers are well protected against the Covid 19 and from public harassment.
- All sanitary items should be subsided so that they become affordable even to the lowest paid.
- All high risks places need to be highly monitored and enforce strict measures
- The Government should ensure that all highly populated areas both urban and rural are well monitored against the Covid 19
- The Government should establish a call center which will handle Covid 19 issues as well as disseminate relevant information
- As already presented to Government through the guidelines proposed during the social partners’ meeting held on 27th March 2020 at the Ministry of Labour Headquarters, Government and Employers should ensure that no jobs are lost and that social protection systems are enhanced.
- Government should seriously expand the cushioning of disposable income of workers including those in the informal economy. MCTU appreciate the measure taken by Government on the same but we believe that more can still be done particularly measures that target salary earning workers some of which are listed below:
- Government should increase the PAYE free threshold from MK40,000 to MK100,000.
- The Government should reduce VAT on all food items and basic amenities.
- The Government should reduce tariffs on water and electricity and also suspend of disconnections of such facilities to all postpaid users during the lockdown.
- MACRA should also seriously consider enforcing the reduction of the internet tariffs so as to provide a conducive environment for people to work at home during the lockdown.
- TNM and Airtel should seriously consider reducing their calling and money transactions fees.
It is to our concern that the commendable step in reducing the prices of fuel needs to be cut, this has affected the livelihood of the citizens and workers. The consideration by Government in the matters raised herein will have a direct bearing on takeaway home package of employees thereby improving their livelihood particularly this time around that the lockdown has been enforced.
MCTU therefore appeals to Government to seriously consider immediate implementation of these recommendations.