The government of Malawi presented a new Labour Relations Amendment Bill to the parliament, without any prior consultation with trade unions, including the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MTUC). The draft law was fast-tracked and adopted on 7 July 2021, despite strong rejection by the opposition political parties and days of widespread MTUC-led protests against the bill by the trade unions and civil society at large. The bill had last been discussed by the tripartite partners in 2018 and was shelved.
The new legislative provisions unduly limit the right to strike and punish workers who exercise this right. The law also grants employers the right to withhold wages and arrogates exclusive power to the minister to determine essential services without due process, and it excludes the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council while amending the provisions of the Industrial Relations Court.