Trade Unions in Malawi

13087 Words Oct 15th, 2012 53 Pages
TRADE UNIONS

FREDRICK BANDA
INTRODUCTION
This chapter examines democracy from another angle that is the way democracy is rooted in the collective action of citizens outside of the formal institutions of democratic government. The trade union movement in Malawi dates as far back as the end of the Second World War. It has undergone a process of growth, decline and growth again over the past seven decades or so. To understand how trade unionism has developed in any country, we need to consider the political, economic and social context. In Malawi, the political context has been the most influential factor in the way trade unionism has developed. As Salamon (2000) points out, industrial relations context shapes employer-employee
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However, the difference between these and trade unions is that the latter have the privilege to jointly share decision making powers with the employer while the rest are merely consultative with final decision resting with the employer. Trade unions are registered, and once a required percentage threshold is reached (20% in Malawi), the employer is bound to recognize the trade union as a legitimate representative of workers for collective bargaining over issues regarding terms and conditions of employment. Furthermore, while after exhausting available procedures in a dispute with the employer, a trade union has the right to stage a strike to compel the employer to act in their interest without breaking the employment contract, the other committees do not have that right under the law. They risk undertaking an illegal strike and therefore liable for dismissal.
Trade unions use collective bargaining, whereby the trade union itself negotiates the terms and conditions of all workers belonging to the trade union as well as those who are not members but are working in that organization. This makes a trade union stronger and a more powerful force than if workers negotiated individually. This force is strengthened by the fact that trade unions use the ‘strike weapon’, whereby workers would agree to refuse to work until their conditions are met.

Key concept: collective bargaining
A process of agreeing terms

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