Strong union should always come with good results from bargaining table

Senior Labour Officer, Frank Adini

Senior Labour Officer, Frank Adini

The unions should at list gain some of the things lined up for negotiations but if they lose everything brought on the negotiation table it just means that union is weak and not wealthy to be called union.


This was said by the General Secretary for Hotels Food Processing and Catering Workers Union (HFPCWU) Shakespeare Sesani during a two day training workshop which took place at Grace Bandawe and was organized to train the shop-stewards and the just members of different branches within Blantyre.


Sesani observed that there are some union representatives who always come back from negotiations with no good results hence calling the shop-stewards to develop some techniques they could use whenever they are going for negotiations with their management.


Among other strategies for effective negotiations, the general secretary cited the need to have the report on how the company is performing in terms of income, to be well versed with the labour laws as well as the company’s condition of service and how they inflation rate is at that particular time just to mention a few.


“It is sad that some representatives go for negotiations without knowing these things and most of the time the management side uses this to their advantage but when you are aware of some of these things it becomes hard for the management to play their mind games,” said Sesani.


He however made it clear that when going for negotiations you should not expect to get everything but at least get some and lose some but not lose all.


“You should know that negotiations are a process where you win some and lose some. You should at least meet half way so that both sides should not lose,” explains the GS.


Sesani then cautioned the participants to avoid asking for too much which can cripple the company or resulting in others losing their jobs.


“Beware of what you ask for, never ask for the impossible but only negotiate for what is possible because if you ask for impossible things some people may end up losing their jobs not because the management wants things to be that way but because the only option to grant your wish is to reduce taskforce and this is why I also said that it is good to know the financial status of the company to avoid such things,” he said.


During the workshop there was also Senior Labour Officer, Frank Adini who facilitated on the topic of Labour Laws where he tackled some important issues in Employment, Labour Relations and Workers Compensation Acts.


According to Adini, before signing a contract it is necessary to read through and know what’s in the contract and ask where you don’t understand and if you are not comfortable with the contract it’s better to leave the job to avoid problems that may come in future.


He then said that if you have signed the contract you should make sure that labour laws and condition of service are being followed at that particular company and failing which you have a case against the management which you can take before them by negotiations and if negotiations heat the deadlock you can go to the labour office and when that fails again you can decide to go for peaceful industrial strike.


On the issue of industrial strike, Adini said that “no employer shall find casual laborers to do the work of those who are doing legal strike and no employee should be fired for going for legal strike and if the employer does these things it means they have violated the labour laws and they have case to answer,” said Adini.


The senior labour officer further said that, when one is injured during cause of work is entitled for compensation from the company after the doctors’ report.


He added that, an employee should not be fired on the ground of sickness unless the doctor says that, that particular person is incapacitated.


He also said both parties should tender a notice of resignation within the period stipulated in their contract and failing which, the party which has failed to give the notice shall pay the other party.


Adini then warned against tenancy of stealing and he made it clear that when caught stealing your contract can be terminated right away and you go home without benefits unlike when there are redundancies.


HFPCWU Harvey Chingondo also facilitated on the role of a Shop-steward and Zione Pakulamtanda who is the Chairlady for Women’s Desk facilitated on the topic of Trade Union.


Chingondo said it was necessary to teach union members and shop-stewards some of the things they aligned for those two days since those things help to build strong union.


“The trainings are like our eye opener because some people just get excited to join union without knowing what’s really union is all about and some gets appointed to be shop-stewards without knowing the task ahead or what they stand for, so these trainings helps those people to understand what union is all about and to make them understand their rights and how they can demand those rights at their different working places,” said Chingondo.


Representing the fellow participants was Eneless Chamvula from Bakemans who said the training was so beneficial since they learnt a lot things they wasn’t aware of and she said that with fellow workers who attended the workshop they will practice what they learn in demand of the rights of their fellow workers.


“We now know what we stand for and we will make sure to demand for our rights and those of our fellow workers,” said Chamvula.


Almost 40 people attended the workshop of which at least 20 of them were Carlsberg, Coca-Cola, and Sobo Brewery Trade Union (CASOTU).