Hotel Food Processing and Catering Workers Union (HFPCWU) recently organized a workshop for some of the newly appointed shop-stewards in the hotel industry who they say were not trained on their task.
The two day workshop took place at hotel Masongola in Zomba with eleven participants from four hotels namely; Hippo Lodge, Shire Lodge, Kuchawe Sunbird and as the Hotel Masongola.
Speaking during the workshop HFPCWU Chairlady for women’s desk who was also one of the facilitators Zione Pakulamtanda said the workshop was organised with the aim to equip the shop-stewards who were appointed without having the knowledge of how to handle their tasks.
“These people never attended any training previously, this is their first time and we believe that by the end of this workshop these people will get something and they will be able to handle their positions appropriately. They will have the skills to interact with their employers as well as fellow members,” said Pakulamtanda.
Women’s Desk Chairlady further said, the training will not only benefit those participants but will also help increase union membership observing that when these people go back to their respective branches they will have sound leadership hence bringing results which will inspire non-union members into joining the union and also there will be industrial peace at the workplace.
The shop-stewards were trained on different topics among others; Labour Laws, Collective Bargaining and Grievance Handling, Challenges faced by trade unions and Duties of shop-stewards.
One of the participants Benedicto Konala from Hippo View Lodge said “we have learnt a lot through this training. We have realised that most of the times we work without knowing our rights but now i have come to know my rights and i will take whatever i have learnt to my fellow workers.”
Konala revealed that due to lack of knowledge on issues to do with labour laws the employers were taking an advantage to oppress them in different ways.
“With this training my eyes are now open and with my fellow workers i will stand up for our rights because we currently have more grievances ranging from sexual harassment, working for years without being put on permanent work as well as transport not being issued to those who work on a night shift,” he further said.
Phoebe Wachepa participant from Sunbird Chawe agreed with Konala that the workshop benefited her a lot as she was sometimes making decisions that are not in line with labour laws and the employers were able to see those weaknesses.
“We were appointed to be shop-stewards but without guidance so sometimes we were making blunders whenever we were meeting the management to the extent that sometimes they were guiding us which was so embarrassing,” she said.
Apart from Pakulanda the HFPCWU General Secretary, Shakespeare Sesani facilitated on the other topics.
Sesani and Pakulamtanda also took time to listen to the challenges that the participants face in their different work places. Union is taken as an enemy in some workplaces and the two guided the participants that the union and management should work together for industrial peace to prevail. The union should organise more members because the strength of the union is in numbers.