LABOUR DAY SPEECH FOR MCTU PRESIDENT- 2018

The Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports, and Manpower Development , Hon. Francis Kasaila MP,

The Labour Commissioner(LC) Mr. Mwangulu, Deputy Labour Commissioner (DLC),

The Governor Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM)

I recognize all Executive Directors present  ;Employers Consultative Association of Malawi, (ECAM), Lilongwe City Council.

Hon. Min. let me also recognize the veterans of MCTU; (Names)

Collogues from the ILO

Distinguished Delegates

Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning      

Hon. Minister and Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, our theme this year is;

“ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT –IMPROVING EMPLOYABILITY OF YOUTH IN MALAWI”

However before I shade more light on this year’s theme, Hon. Minister allow me to quickly say few words about “The Labour Day Holiday”

The labour Day Holiday is not just a mere holiday, it symbolize the struggle and the relevance of workers in development not only in Malawi but all over the world.

Hon. Minister there is a saying that “Behind a successful Man there is a Woman” As the labour movement we believe that “Behind every development, whether Social, Economic, Technological, and even Political, there is a hard working worker”.

Hon. Minister it saddens us so much that most of these workers are not well recognized and rewarded by their employers.

Ladies and Gentlemen, for a second lets imagine a world without workers, the first thing that most of us will see or think of is the collapse of infrastructures, increased death rates, no service provision, in short I see a stagnate world.

Hon. Minister, as much as we celebrate this day, we would also like to send a message to employers including the government that workers need to be well recognized and rewarded for their key roles in the general growth of business and achievement of economic growth and development in this country.   

Hon. Minister, we are aware of the efforts and programmes by the government aiming at create decent employment for Malawians, which includes but not limited to the following;

  • Establishment of Community Technical Collages
  • Development and implementation of National Policies and Programmes including, The Decent Work Country Programm (DWCP), The Nation Employment and Labour Policy (NELP) including the newly lunched program on the Transition to Formality which is guided by ILO recommendation 204.
  • Upgrading of the Ministry of Labour
  • In 2018/19 budget preview by the Ministry of Finance we noted that the budget will largely focus on youth development.

Hon. Minister, the list is endless and these few said efforts falls among the commendable Job that  the government is executing on the ground, and as the labour movement we are happy and proud of what our government is doing.

Indeed we are happy Hon. Minister, however we have few key concerns and issues that we would like to raise and register with you and these includes but not limited to the following;

  • Firstly, according to 2008 census the youth aged 10-29 years account for the 40% of the total population and the 2013 Labour Force Survey indicates that out of the 7 million total labour forces, 5.5 million were in employment. And 45% of the employed persons were in the agricultural sector which is also characterized by informality. The 2013 Labour Force Survey further reveals that 27% of the employed population in Malawi is underemployed.

 In addition Hon. Minister, when we segregate the youth by age for instance 15 -24 years,  it shows that out of the 3.6 million youth 2 million are workers. And also note that around 130,000 youth enter the labour market each year and unfortunately the formal sector only produce 30,000 jobs hence majority of the youth have found themselves in the informal economy, this is according to the Labour Market Profile of 2016.  

Furthermore, according to a skills gap analysis  study that MCTU conducted in 2017, it revealed  low levels of skills and hands on experience among the youth, high levels of skills mismatch and hence majority are trapped in the informal economy.

Hon. Minister, the point that we are trying to raise is that for so long, the youth have received less attention in terms of employment and skills development programs.

As the labour movement were are not relaxed Hon Minister, we have currently developed a Skills Development Policy, which among other thing will guide MCTU towards the development of demand driven skills in youth for employability and employment creation.

But the key challenge that frustrates us the most, is the tendency by some employers especially those in the construction industry not to recognize prior learning  experience by these youths. In addition some employers will go an extra mile not recognize recognition papers or certificates  offered by Trade Unions and NGOs, despite collaborating with TEVET training institutions.

We believe that the youth need full attention in terms of employment and skills development, since the youth are the workers of today and the leaders of tomorrow.

  • Secondly, Hon Minister, electricity blackouts are costing the economy billions and billions of kwacha, I don’t remember staying for a week without power cuts. In adequate supply of electricity has reduced productivity for most companies, as we speaking other companies are planning of retrenching workers. The consequences of  inadequate electricity supply  goes beyond productivity Hon Minister, but it has also a huge impact on the environment. Lately we have seen a drastic increase in demand for charcoal  and firewood putting pressure on the environment especially trees.

We therefore recommend that the government should  work on a long term solution unlike the procurement of the diesel generators.

  • Thirdly, Hon. Minister you will note that most of the statistics raised in my speech are old, for instance the 2013 Labour Force Survey indicated that the informal economy was estimated to accommodate around 88.7%  of the total labour force of 7.8 million.

Our concern, Hon Minister is not the old statistics but rather the ever growing informal economy, which pose serious threat to workers, employers, and the government.

We are not sure of the current statistics regarding the size of the informal economy, but logic tells us that the formal economy is also contracting at a very fast rate, making the informal economy the largest employer.

Hon Minister, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, the informal economy expose workers to various decent work deficits and studies have confirmed that it is also the hub of absolute poverty in most African countries including Malawi.

For employers it affects productivity due to low skills among informal workers, and also unfair competition on the market since companies which use informal workers, have a reduced production cost due to low salaries and poor working conditions, unlike those in the formal economy, which mostly comply with labour laws and standards.

Hon minister, for the government two main consequences stands out; (1) reduced revenue due to reduced tax base and (2) high levels of poverty that put pressure on the fiscal policy hence increased government spending on social services.

Hon Minister, we are happy that on the 27th of April, 2018  we were invited to transition to formality meeting, and we hope to see the process materializing soon.

  • Fourthly, Hon Minister, it’s the status of Tripartite Labour Advisory Committee (TLAC). This is a very strategic and relevant national structure that allows social partners to engage on labour related issues. But ever since its establishment it has been under-utilized leaving numerous labour issues unattended and unaddressed. It’s our sincere hope that in the next budget TLAC will be considered in terms of funding.

In addition compliance with labour standards and laws among employers has been a challenge, we have handled numerous cases related to employers underpaying workers and exposing workers to vulnerable and precarious working conditions. Other workers have disclosed that some employers discourage them from joining trade unions, which is also a direct violation of Freedom of Association and the right to join trade unions.

Hon. Minister, we believe this is as a result of inadequate inspection exercises by the ministry of labour to enforce compliance with labour standards and laws. It is therefore our sincere hope that in the next budget  the Ministry of labour receives enough funds for effective execution of its mandate.

Hon. Minister, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it’s undeniable that our day to day life solely depends on the activities of workers. Economists and other development practitioners have argued that “Economic development is the engine of development”, as the labour movement “We say workers are the engine of development”. We also believe that in order for the government to achieve inclusive growth and development, decent work needs to be among government priority area.

Hon Minister, Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, with due respect let me briefly end my speech with few words regarding our youth of today.

Statistics shows that currently the youth contributes almost 50% to the total population of Malawi, allow me to therefore conclude that Malawi is a youth nation. This should make us realize that in the few years to come;

  • Where am standing, next time a youth will occupy this space
  • Where you sitting, next time a youth will occupy the sit
  • Your current positions in your respective organizations and companies the youth will come for those positions.
  • In short they youth will soon replace us.  

Unfortunately these youths, Honorable Minister, I am afraidwe have not invested much effort and prepared them for future positions and responsibility. Majority of these youth are working in the informal economy where they are exposed to poor working conditions hence denying them the much needed experience that would allow them to face the world tomorrow.

In addition most of these youths have entered employment especially in the informal economy without proper educational background and the required skills, which also affects their performance and ultimately the general performance of companies and organizations they work for.

Hon. Minister our theme, challenge us to focus more on developing the youth for a better Malawi. We have noted with great concern on the levels of skills mismatch and low levels of skills among the youth, this should worry all of us, because unskilled youth is a developmental issue and concern.

Distinguished guests, how do we achieve sustainable development with majority of the youth uneducated and trapped in the informal economy.

 I would like to indicate that as the labour movement we are happy that the government has demonstrated political will towards youth development evidenced by the outcome of 2018/19 budget preview which shows much interest in youth development. We hope that this development  will be done in good faith and not as political campaign.

Let me end by thanking all workers in Malawi  for your respective and invaluable roles that you play for the development of this country, however my humble request and message to all workers, employers and government, please let’s make an impact out there by involving more youths in our day to day activities for a better Malawi.

“If we are to achieve sustainable and inclusive development, let the youth be prepared for leadership roles and responsibility in this country”

I THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR ATTENTION & TIME

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