At the opening of labour inspectors capacity building workshop at Amaryllis Hotel in Blantyre, Secretary for Labour, Wezi Kayira indicated that lack of labour market information is one of the biggest challenges being faced in the Ministry.
“We do not have a functional labour market information system,” he said. “As such, we have limited data for informed decision and visibility. This is an area that we need to improve on.”
The labour inspectors who have been drawn from all districts of the Southern Region. The first of the series of workshops was held in Kasungu from September 4-8.
Kayira emphasized that district labour officers have the duty to submit monthly reports containing useful data and information, saying “some have responded very well while others are not cooperative”.
Kayira observed that the non-performing district give the excuse that they lack resources such as lack of vehicles but the PS challenged them that most of their offices at district councils are within proximity of business premises, which are walking distances.
He maintained that resources will never be enough, saying even the performing districts also face mobility challenges but still deliver good reports.
He thus announced that the Ministry has received a donation of 20 motorcycles for the labour inspectors’, saying while he knows that some workplaces are within walking distance, he expects to see remarkable progress following the provision of the motorcycles.
“Inspections should obviously increase. Labour inspection is an integral part of the Labour Administration System that plays a fundamental role in ensuring effective law and labour standards application.”
He reminded them that the functions of labour inspection are derived from Article 3(1) of Convention No. 81, and Article 6(1) of Convention No. 129 — whose main functions of labour inspections include:
i. To enforce labour standards and labour laws;
ii. To provide advisory services to employers and employees in the course of inspection which leads to increased knowledge for better voluntary compliance;
iii. Inspection can serve as a catalyst for labour law review by exposing gaps in the law or provisions that are problematic to implement; and
iv. To collect various labour market information.
“Labour inspection involves physical visits to workplaces to check the conditions under which employees are working,” went on Kayira.
“A labour inspector is able to see or assess for himself or herself the working conditions and environment of employees and provide technical advice on best practices available to employers, workers, and their organizations to improve the conditions of work.”
He also emphasized that “to determine the remedial measures adopted by the employer to correct infringements previously detected, follow up inspection actions must be undertaken”.
“To put it simply, follow-up inspections enable an inspector to check whether advice previously given has been implemented or not.
He reiterated that Malawi ratified 3 Occupational Safety & Health Conventions and Protocol of 2014 to the Forced Labour Convention in November, 2019, as part of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Centenary celebrations, saying this was government’s demonstration of its commitment towards the promotion of decent work, safety and health.
“Ratification, however, entails greater need to strengthen our labour inspectorate to comply with the provisions of the ratified Conventions and Protocol. Ratification also imposes a reporting obligation on Government, as part of the ILO supervisory machinery to check our level of compliance.
“In this connection, I would to mention that we have just submitted to ILO the reports that were due on 1st September this year and they include Conventions on OSH. This capacity building training is therefore taking place at the most opportune time.”
Being held under the theme; ‘Promoting Effective Integrated Labour Inspection for Attainment of Decent Jobs’, the workshop is being facilitated by GOPA Worldwide Consultants under Zantchito Skills for Jobs programme, which is being funded by the European Union (EU).
GOPA Worldwide Consultant facilitator, Johanes Mandowa — an occupational safety & health (OSH) expert said in his statement that the programme is to create an enabling business environment for micro, small to medium enterprises (MSMEs) and strengthening of labour laws for the attainment of decent jobs and sustainable economic development.
The EU’s support involves provision of technical and financial support; to capacitate OSH and to equip the labour officers with necessary skills and competencies that are critical in aiding their effectiveness in discharging their labour administration mandate — in line with ILO’s ‘Decent work, Safe work’ programme.
The workshops are entrusting labour inspection and its social partners with new roles and responsibilities earmarked to improve working conditions and guaranteeing decent labour relations through the concept of an integrated labour inspection system.
Meanwhile, a manual of inspection practices has been made available and PS Kayira implored on the officers to read it through and to always carry it with them as their bible whenever they are on duty to keep referring to it.
“I have gone through the training manual and I find it quite compressive and with diverse issues,” he said.
“This gives me the confidence that the training will sharpen your inspection skills.
“Without doubt, you will acquire the competencies to handle complex issues including emerging issues, such as, violence and harassment at and trafficking in persons for labour or commercial exploitation.”