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Recent Labour Law Reforms in Malawi: A Review

Clement Ng'ong'ola
Journal of African Law
Vol. 46, No. 2 (2002), pp. 167-196
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4141332
Page Count: 30
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Recent Labour Law Reforms in Malawi: A Review
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Abstract

This article describes and assesses reforms to employment and labour relations legislation after the political and constitutional transformation that took place in Malawi between 1992 and 1995. The frame of reference for the assessment is the Constitution for the Second Republic, finalized in 1995, which incorporates labour issues within its human rights clauses. One theme of the article, however, is that some of the constitutional provisions were either poorly conceived or not elegantly rendered. This has compounded and complicated the reforms. The second theme is that legal reforms have been attempted in an economic environment not conducive to the attainment of the desired objectives. The Labour Relations Act 1996 attempts to give effect to the Constitution and to international labour standards on issues such as formation of workers' and employers' organizations, collective bargaining, the taking of industrial action and dispute resolution. The Employment Act 2000 attempts to give effect to the Constitution and international standards on issues such as basic terms and conditions of employment, employment of women and young persons, and dismissal and other forms of termination of employment. The article observes that these laws generally attempt to improve and strengthen the position of employees or workers, but that this is done under a constitutional arrangement that does not properly secure the right to work, and in an economic environment in which jobs are scarce and employment is at a premium. With so many employees clamouring for not so many jobs, employers are in a position to ignore some of the requirements of the revised laws.

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