The General Secretary for Hotels Food Processing and Catering Workers Union (HFPCWU) Shakespeare Sesani revealed that the unions are planning to widely train shop stewards on Occupation Safety and Health at work place.
The general secretary said this during HFPCWU first OSH training workshop which was conducted at Grace Bandawe in the commercial city, Blantyre.
He observed that for so long union members have been ignoring OSH as compared to other labour related issues such as pay rise and overtime just to mention a few.
“Of late we have observed that workers in different sectors are facing dangers such as injuries and even deaths but because they lack knowledge on such issue they let it go without reporting to relevant authorities for compensation,” said Sesani.
The General Secretary said if these people are well trained on this topic, cases of deaths and injuries will be reduced as he added that there are a lot of outstanding cases regarding the same. The training was organized by HFPCWU in conjunction with Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) the mother body of all the unions in Malawi and the trainers were Gift Mpopo and Zione Pakulantanda.
Concurring with Sesani was Mpopo who said during his session he observed workers lack knowledge of labour laws more especially OSH hence a need for more trainings for shop stewards countrywide.
He however, expressed satisfaction on the outcome of the workshop saying he was confident that the first team to be trained which comprised almost 20 participants from 18 companies will reach out for many when they spread the message to other workers in their respective workplaces.
“Learning is a process but I believe that whatever these people have learnt they will be able to teach others and in so doing we will reach the goal of reaching out to many,” said Mpopo.
He also stated that the participants are to be empowered to form committees in their workplaces relating to OSH “the committees will help them to identify hazards and use personal protective equipment for their own safety. They will also be able to report if they feel the environment is not safe as well as seek compensation whenever necessary.”
One of the participants Jasper Phiri from Transglobe said the workshop was beneficial and eye opener “Seriously we never knew that we should report injuries for compensation and that it is our right to ask protective equipment from our employers and because of that lack of knowledge we were suffering on our own without help.”
Janet Donza from Superior Halaal Meat agreed and shared the sentiments with Phiri as she admitted that they learnt something and was going back to his workplace equipped.
“I’ve learnt something and first thing on Monday I will call on a meeting to share with my fellow workers what I have learnt and to discuss the idea of forming health committee. We ask the secretariat to continue organizing such trainings to help us know what to do when faced with some of the problems we are currently encountering due to lack of knowledge,” said Donza.
Apart from OSH there was also HIV/AIDS and Male Circumcision topics by Population Services International (PSI) trainer and nurse.
Currently MCTU is training ‘trainers of the trainer’ whose current task is to train shop-stewards on OSH apart from other labour related issues.