MCTU Deputy Director of Education and organizer, Jessie Ching’oma has lamented the lack of collective bargaining for workers in different sectors in Malawi due to lack of strong unions.
Ching’oma observed that most of the union representatives are not well conversant with labour laws and because of this they don’t know that collective bargaining is the workers right and the management takes an advantage and dictates the union leadership on what they should do.
She said this during a two days’ workshop with Carlsberg Southern Bottlers Trade Union (CASOTU) in Mulanje, the workshop was organized by Regional Project Coordinator for 3F/IUF Stella Penelope Lequecitane.
“A leader should be knowledgeable and conversant with labour laws and anything to do with labour but you find that some union leaders do not even know their rights and they cannot even demand for collective bargaining and it gives the management chance to dictate things because they see the weakness in you,” said Ching’oma.
She also noted that there are some union leaders who sell out the people who elected them by getting bribes from the bosses.
“There are some leaders who instead of serving the people who elected them in power, they serve their own interest by getting bribes from the management hence living out important issues which could have served the most disadvantaged.
There are also some yellow unions, these unions they accept whatever the management says, they are not independent and one wonders why having a union which cannot function on its own ‘It annoys me when I see such unions’ in fact it’s a waste of time,” worried Deputy Director.
Ching’oma also said small union membership is another contributing factor to the country’s weak unions.
She revealed that in Malawi there are 5 million potential active workers and out of that amount the unions have the membership of less than 120 thousand.
“Seriously, we are not force to reckon with because the membership is just too little and looking at political background of our country, we can’t be feared when voicing out our concerns in minority,” she said.
Ching’oma however, said there is hope for better unions if leaders, shop stewards and workers in general are being trained on labour issues if funds are available.
She also encouraged the participants of the workshop to encourage others to join union so to reach a goal of 100 percent membership.