The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) have entered into a new partnership to strengthen trade union action in the fight against child labour in Malawi, with a focus on tea and coffee supply chains in the country’s Chitipa, Mulanje, Mzimba, Ntchisi, and Thyolo districts.
The partnership, which is valued at almost MWK 170 million (equivalent to more than USD $200,000) has been established under the ILO’s ‘Accelerating action for the elimination of child labour in supply chains in Africa’ (ACCEL Africa) project which is funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands.
“MCTU’s strategic vision is of a society where workers enjoy their rights, have access to social justice and equality and where conditions of work help to eradicate poverty and vulnerability. As MCTU, we look forward to leveraging this partnership to further enhance our ongoing efforts to build the capacity of our affiliated trade unions, especially those representing workers in the formal and informal sectors, as well as smallholder trusts, associations, and cooperatives, in the targeted tea and coffee-growing communities to identify and address child labour and its root causes. We will do this through sensitisation and awareness-raising campaigns for workers as well as by providing support to trade unions for effective social dialogue and collective bargaining with employers to reach and sign agreements that protect children from child labour and ensure decent working conditions for parents and caregivers”, said MCTU Secretary General Mr. Madalitso Njolomole.
“This new partnership will also allow us as MCTU to better support organisation and unionisation of estate, plantation, and informal sector workers in tea and coffee growing areas into trade unions. In addition, the partnership will see MCTU scaling-up our work advocating and lobbying for stronger laws, policies and regulations relating to child labour, such as the long-pending draft National Child Labour Policy, and for their effective implementation and enforcement. At the same time, the partnership will see MCTU continue calling for ratification by Malawi of important international labour standards, especially the ILO Violence and Harassment Convention, which recognizes the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based forms”, emphasized Mr. Njolomole.
“As the ILO, we recognize that trade unions have unique and vital roles to play in the fight against child labour, including through campaigning for the ratification and effective implementation of international labour standards through strong laws and policies. Trade unions can also bargain with employers collectively on behalf of workers for improved working conditions for adult workers, reducing the incentive for families to resort to child labour. Trade unions can also contribute to ending child labour by influencing national socio-economic policies for decent work through effective engagement with government and by participating in international campaigns against child labour, such as Alliance 8.7, World Day Against Child Labour, and the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labour”, said Mr. George Okutho, the Director of the ILO Country Office for Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
The International Labour Organization (ILO) brings together governments, employers and workers of 187 countries to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes promoting decent work for all women and men. Malawi has been a member of the ILO since 1965.
The Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) is Malawi’s national trade union federation. Founded in 1995, MCTU has a paid-up membership of approximately 150,000 workers and has 26 trade union affiliates. MCTU is affiliated to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Southern Africa Trade Union Coordination Council (SATUCC). MCTU has contributed to the implementation of several ILO child labour projects over many years.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Labour Organisation (ILO).