Malawi congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) has 25 affiliated trade unions, and represents workers from all sectors of the economy in Malawi. MCTU wishes to thank the Malawi Government for taking preventive measures that have to be followed by all workers, employers, public institutions and all other Malawians in order to keep Malawi a COVID 19 free nation.
MCTU also wishes to inform the government, employers, workers and all Malawians that COVID 19 is real. It has no boarders and it is not selective. COVID 19 is so dangerous and no one is immune and it is highly contagious. Cases of COVID 19 are increasing on a daily basis in most of the affected countries and more people are dying from this Virus.
COVID 19 has negatively affected various aspects of development but the socio-economic aspect has been hit hard across the world. According to the ILO, it predicts that over 24.7 billion jobs might be lost globally due to the COVID 19, in addition hospitals all over the world are feeling the pressure in handling the COVID cases.
Malawi is not spared and the future of our economy remains unclear and is under threat due to the locking down of economies in most of our neighboring countries and which happens to be our main source of various food and non-food items for instance South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania.
Demands to Malawi Government
To prioritize its expenditure towards preventive measures and the mitigation of the negative impacts of COVID 19 on the economy, we therefore recommend:
📍Workplace/public institutions should be frequently inspected to ensure that they are following and respecting the recommended hygienic and sanitation requirements in order to stay free from COVID 19 i.e. all entry points into work premises/public institutions to have the necessary sanitation and hygienic utensils and soap, employers should provide the N95 masks and hands sanitizers to all workers so that workers and the public are protected from COVID 19.
📍 There is a need to increase funding to the health sector so that our hospitals are equipped with enough testing kits and human capacity in order to manage Covid 19.
📍 Shopping centers and market places to be frequently monitored to ensure that they are following all preventive measures and that shops are not overcrowded.
📍Financial institutions especially banks to assess the impact of COVID 19 on the economy so that they offer flexible financial services to their clients for instance:
• Soften their loan conditions to both business and individuals so that people have access to money especially businesses whose cash flows have been affected by COVID19 pandemic so that workers are not retrenched due to non-performance of businesses.
• Lower interests rates so that business and individuals are able to access financial services
• Temporarily suspend loans for businesses or individuals whose cash flow has been affected
📍The government should also intervene to increase disposal income and allow access to essential items (both food and non-food items) through:
• 100% tax relief to workers within a specific salary bracket of MK 35,000 to MK 100,000
• reduction of income tax or PAYE
• Reduction of VAT on all food and non-food items including sanitation items
📍The government and all employers should ensure that all workers are paid full salaries and settle all arrears if any immediately.
📍Restrict movements for instance employers should allow workers to work from home and that no workers with symptoms of cold or flu should be allowed to report for duties. In addition people should avoid unnecessary movements and government should monitor that.
📍Allow flexible working hours and shift reporting to work so that work places are not congested.
📍All non-essential services functions which require personal contact should be completely closed down.
📍Government should consider providing some financial packages, cash transfers and supplying free food to vulnerable workers especially those in the informal economy and their families in order to survive the negative impacts of Covid 19.
We are all aware that informal economic activities have slowed due to the Covid 19 making informal workers more vulnerable, hence in all the interventions that we might come up with let’s make sure that we are sensitive to informal workers since they make 89% of the labour force.
📍Lastly we call upon the government of Malawi to enhance the social protection system and fast track the Workers Compensation Fund and ensure that such crises are fully addressed within the fund.
Covid 19 should be a lesson to the government, employers, workers and all Malawians to have strategies/plans in advance in order to manage such crises.
In conclusion, it is our greatest hope that NO WORKER in Malawi will lose a job due to the Covid 19.
We also call upon the general public to be honest and responsible during this period of the Covid 19 by self-quarantine or reporting any case or symptoms of the Covid 19 to the appropriate authorities so that we manage the situation.