COVID-19: Mulanje Red Tape Saga Angers MCTU

The house was encircled with red tape The house was encircled with red tape - pic by Hastings Jimani

An act by Esperanza Tea Estate Company, a subsidiary of Eastern Produce Malawi Limited (EPM) of encircling with a red tape a house of an employee who tested of COVID-19 continue to spark national debate with unions and rights organizations, pouring out their sentiments.

On Tuesday, HRCC expressed concern with the act, and now Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) has echoed the sentiments saying has potential of discouraging other employees to get tested.

MCTU Deputy Director Jessie Ching’oma has told us her organization will pursue the matter further until justice is executed on this conduct. 

“The country’s constitution and labor laws discourage abuse of any sort even at work places and it is unfortunate that these tea estate companies deliberately violate rights of their employees yet they know what the laws say,” said Ching’oma.

She adds: “We were together with representatives from the tea industry when formulating COVID-19 guidelines at work places and nothing about red taping houses of COVID-19 positive employees was discussed.”  

But Chief Executive Officer of Tea Association Malawi Limited, the mother body of all tea growing companies in Malawi, Beyan Munthali, says the act was aimed at providing a safe environment for self-isolation of the employee.

“We resolved the matter with District Commissioner Mr. Stallichi Mwambiwa and the tape was removed on Monday. So, what we will be doing now is to ensure that COVID-19 positive employees are adhering to prescribed self-isolation measures,” said Munthali. 

The employee got tested together with four members of his family on 14th January, 2021 and all were found positive of COVID-19.

It took the intervention of the DC to ask the company to remove the red tape.

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