Tea Sector Complies with the Labour Laws-ECAM

As the International Labour Conference is still underway, Malawi as a country appeared before the Committee on the Application of Standards on 31st May 2022 over the allegations pf sexual harassment and discrimination.

This follows the complaint submitted by The International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Association (IUF) to the International Labour Office that there is rampant sexual harassment in Malawi in the agricultural sector and particularly in the tea sector and that the country does do not have adequate laws and judicial systems to protect women and deliver justice. This contravenes ILO Convention No.111. that Malawi ratified in 1965.

The Malawi delegation is led by the Honourable Minister of Labour Vera Kamtukule.

Speaking on behalf of Employers as a national employers’ representative body, the ECAM Executive Director George Khaki firmly denied the allegation on rampant sexual harassment in the tea industry as not representing the practices in the tea industry and the agriculture sector in Malawi.

Khaki said the tea industry in Malawi complies with the requirements of the Gender Equality Act and provide adequate and effective grievance handling mechanisms. All existing employees in the sector have been sensitized and oriented on the policy including its grievance mechanisms.

“The tea sector has implemented the “Tea Association of Malawi Gender Equality, Harassment and Discrimination Policy” which came into force in 2017. The industry has established at estate level various committees including the Women’s Welfare Committees (WWCs) and the Gender, Harassment and Discrimination Committees (GHDCs) mandated to receive, deliberate and recommend redress, said Khaki”.

Khaki said tea industry in Malawi is under compliance and labour inspections by the Government of Malawi through the Ministry of Labour which recent inspection by the Minister of Labour herself have not established sexual harassment of the levels by IUF in its report.

“For an industry with over 60,000 workers, if at all such cases exist, they remain few, and not at the scale portrayed by the IUF in its report and these are identified and adequately dealt with under the applicable laws and policies, said Khaki”.

Khaki added that whilst recognizing the right of IUF to report the matter to the ILO, ECAM notes with concern that it was not consulted nor informed of these issues as a Social Partner prior to the report that was submitted to the ILO. Good Faith entails that Social Partners should be consulted at national level.

Leave a Reply