Labour inspections critical for the enforcement of labour law and standards
Minister of Labour, Agnes NyaLonje, has emphasized the need for Malawi to have well-trained labour inspectors to for enhanced enforcement of labour law and standards.
NyaLonje made the remarks in Lilongwe when she opened a five days Labour Inspectors’ Capacity Building Workshop, which has been facilitated and financed by the European Union (EU) through Zantchito Skills for Jobs Project.
The objective of this training is to improve the knowledge, skills and general competencies of labour inspectors in Malawi.
The minister said her ministry expects that the training, which targets 85 labour inspectors drawn across the country, will deliver much improved labour inspection services, leading to better protection of workers and better supported and more productive businesses.
“As you are all aware, labour inspection is an integral part of the labour administration system that plays a fundamental role in ensuring effective enforcement of labour law and labour standards. As we all know, labour inspection involves physical visits to workplaces to check the working conditions of employees and the work environment.
“To be meaningful, physical workplace visits must be followed by technical advice on what to do to comply with labour law and/or standards where shortfalls have been observed. Additionally, a well-grounded labour inspector should be able to share with employers and employees best practices on compliance. It is also important to conduct follow-up inspections to check if the infringements previously detected have been addressed,” said NyaLonje.
Functions of labour inspection derive from Article 3(1) of Convention 81, and Article 6(1) of Convention 129. The main functions of labour inspections include enforcement of labour standards and labour laws; provision of advisory services to employers and employees in the course of inspection, leading to increased knowledge for better voluntary compliance.
The provision also tasks labour inspectors to serve catalysts for labour law review by exposing gaps or ambiguities in the law and collecting various labour market information required for evidence-based planning and decision making.
The minister said the capacity building workshop for labour inspectors had come at the right time when the Government of Malawi has just announced the revision of the minimum wages.
She expressed hope that the knowledge the participants will gain from the training will help them to improve the quality of the inspections you conduct.
“Going forward I will expect all of you to prioritise labour inspections so that we improve enforcement of labour law and standards, an area in which we are currently not doing well. I am aware that you face many challenges when carrying out your core functions of labour inspection, the biggest being that of mobility. I am pleased to inform you that in September last year our Ministry was privileged to receive a donation of 20 motorcycles from one of our partner companies to ease the mobility challenges. These will be distributed to 20 districts. I am glad to also say that the Zantchito Project has procured 6 vehicles. These vehicles and motorcycles will go a long way towards ensuring that you, our Labour Inspectors, conduct more inspections and that the inspections are not compromised by your reliance on the employers you are inspecting to pay your daily transport needs,” said NyaLonje.
The minister assured labour inspectors of her utmost commitment to supporting them as they carry out their work.