The Minister of Labour, Honourable Vera Kamtukule, the Principal Secretary Mr. Wezi Kayira, the Commissioner for Labour Mr. H. Nyangulu and other officials from the Ministry conducted labour inspections of selected tea estates in the tea industry. The inspections were aimed at inspecting labour conditions in the tea industry, to appreciate strides made by the tea industry in promoting decent work including the elimination of child labour; promotion of female worker’s rights in the tea industry workplaces and the challenges faced by estates.
Hon. Vera Kamtukule arriving at Kawalazi
The labour inspections commenced on 11th April 2022 at Kawalazi Tea Estate in Nkhatabay district, 13th April 2022 at Lujeri Tea Estate (Nchima) in Thyolo and Eastern Produce Malawi (Minimini Tea Estate) in Mulanje. During the inspections the Minister also held meetings with Tea Estates’ Management representatives, members of the Plantation Agricultural Workers’ Union (PAWU), Women’s Welfare Committee (WWC) and Gender, Harassment and Discrimination Committee (GHDC).
During the visits the Minister also inspected tea and macadamia factories, tea fields, workers houses and also interacted with workers (women and men) in the tea fields and factories. This was for the Minister to appreciate the living conditions of estate workers and how the same affect the health and safety of workers and their families.
Meeting with Management at Kawalazi Tea Estate
Interacting with members of PAWU, WWC and GHDC
Field visit at Lujeri (Nchima)
Interacting with tea factory workers at Kawalazi
From the inspection, the Minister and her officials commended the estates’ efforts to providing safe working environment and adherence to government and ILO set safety standards for workers in the factories and the tea fields. Furthermore, she commended estates for showing great progress in eliminating child labour; violence and harassment in the workplace. She noted that there are adequate and robust systems put in place to ensure zero tolerance to child labour and sexual harassment in the tea industry.
The Minister noted that there are many workers who have no formal technical vocational training but have acquired vocational skills through on-job training in the tea industry. She proposed that TEVETA and her Ministry should partner with TAML to leverage the Recognition to Prior Learning initiative to benefit such workers. Through the initiative, such workers will be certified and others from tea estates’ surrounding communities to be identified, trained and certified as well.
Wrap up meeting at TAML Office in Blantyre
Wrapping up the labour inspections, on 14th April 2022, the Minister held a meeting with the Tea Association of Malawi, Tea Estates’ representatives, Ministry of Labour officials, TEVETA and officials from ECAMA at TAML Offices in Blantyre. The meeting was to appreciate the findings from the inspections, discuss necessary interventions and map the way forward.
During the meeting, on behalf of government, the Minister appreciated the role of the tea industry in boosting the country’s export earnings, job creation and the support on education and healthcare through TAML members’ corporate social responsibility. All these makes the industry a strategic partner in achieving Malawi’s Development agenda 2063 (MW2063 Agenda). She assured TAML that her Ministry will continue to monitor the industry through TAML to make sure that the industry lives up to the government and ILO standards when it comes to promoting decent work. She also appreciated the support from ILO to the tea industry under the “Accelerating action for the elimination of child labour in supply chains in Africa (ACCEL Africa)” project.
The Tea Industry values the partnership it has with Government including the Ministry of Labour.