Statement By President Mutharika At The Commemoration Of Labour Day
We are all labourers because we all work to earn something. Whether in office, driving, or teaching, or whatever job you do, we all labour to succeed. Therefore, Labour Day is one of the most important days all over the world. It is the day Malawi proudly celebrates today.
We meet here today to celebrate the importance of work in our lives. We gather to remember the dignity of labour. We gather to remind the nation that determination and hardwork pave the only path to success.
The success of any nation depends on the spirit and skills of its people. That is why it matters to have a skilled labour force. A skilled labour force will support Malawi in becoming a producing and exporting country.
We started the programme for developing skills because I want this country to have a skilled labour force. With the introduction of Community Technical College, many youth will acquire technical and vocational skills which will enable them to establish their own small and medium enterprises and employ others. Some will start creating jobs for others. Consequently, Community Colleges will create jobs for the youth.
Studies have also shown that Malawi lacks the middle technical skills necessary for driving the industrialization and structural transformation of this country. For all these, this country did not invest enough in developing the skills necessary for industrialization the past 52 years. That is one reason why Malawi has not been producing and exporting enough to transform the economy. That is one reason why many are jobless. And this is the problem my Government is addressing.
When you have a skilled labour force, you create a movement of industrialisation. You also easily create jobs.
When a country has a skilled labour force, there are many people who use their skills to create industries and businesses to employ others. You make a producing and exporting country. Skills development programme is one way of creating jobs in a country.
At the same time, skills development is what makes a nation of employable people. Skills make a producing and exporting country. Skills make a productive and profiting company. Therefore, let me urge the private sector and all employers to invest in developing the skills of your people. Do not always wait for someone or Government to develop the skills of your people.
When your company has the right skills, and you retain the people with the right conditions of service, it is your company that rises.
Indeed, our theme this year makes the point: “Enhancing Skills Development for Job Creation and Employability in the Workplace.” It is a timely theme.
As we move forward in developing skills and creating jobs, I also want us all to think about the dignity of labour. Let us all respect the worker.
Let us get rid of exploitative Labour Practices. For this reason, Government is taking measures towards abolition of Tenancy Labour. This system resembles forced and bonded labour. This is a primitive system that does not respect the rights and dignity of the worker.
But let us also respect labour laws. Labour laws are set to respect the dignity and rights of every worker. But most employers do not want to respect labour laws. Let every employer know that disrespecting labour laws is an offence.
But let me emphasise this point. As long as I am President of this country, I will not allow anyone, I mean anyone, to violate the laws or ill-treat our hard working Malawians. If you are found on the wrong side of the Law, you will face the law. We will punish you. And if you are a resident investor, we will deport you without delay. Noone comes into this country to exploit or look down upon Malawians.
I am aware that there are several challenges facing workers. I listen; I hear you. Let us listen to each other to resolve the challenges that we face.
And let me assure you that my Government has an open door policy. Barely two weeks ago, on 13th April, 2017, I had an audience with the Leadership of the Malawi Congress of Trade Union. It was a very productive and friendly meeting. You raised many issues which the Government will address.
I want this country to move towards ensuring that a minimum wage can earn a Malawian a decent living, no matter how basic it might be.
But our current minimum wage is very low. Currently, it stands at MK 687.70 per day. This minimum wage is on the lower side in the equation of survival.
Today, I am directing the Minister of Labour to lead tripartite consultations and review the Minimum Wage. I think we need to adjust our minimum wage upwards.
I expect that the negotiations will be done in good faith taking into account both the workers’ needs and survival of companies. Minister, I expect you to take action immediately.
Let talk about corruption. I am aware there is corruption in government, civil society, private sector, local councils and everywhere. I condemn corruption in all its forms. Let us all take join hands and end this evil. My government has provided, and will continue to provide resources and support for the ACB, Police, Director of Prosecutions and all agencies to fight corruption independently and professionally. There is no persecution when we fight corruption.
Lastly let me talk about dialogue. When there is a disagreement, let us not disrupt the work, but find a way to solve the disagreement and move forward. I appeal to Workers and Employers to maintain harmonious relations through dialogue in all workplace of Malawi. Dialogue can solve any problem.
God Bless You!
And God Bless Malawi!