Opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has disapproved of President Chakwera assenting of the Labour Relations (Amendment) Bill of 2021.
DPP Shadow Minister of Labour, Joseph Nomale said he learnt the news of the assent with "deep shock and trepidation".
Nomale described the bill as a draconian law because among others it limits the period for industrial action (strike) by employees to three days.
But Anthony Kasunda, Acting Presidential Press Secretary commenting on the DPP sentiments said: "President Dr. Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera respects the rule of law, which includes respecting the courts. That is why he did not assent to the bill until the High Court had completed its Judicial Review of the same and attended to concerns raised by unions.
"Now that this is a bill passed by the Legislature after consultations, cleared by the Judiciary after consultations, the Executive has also assented to the bill after consultations. The President believes that between the consultations done by all three branches of Government, all the concerns raised on the matter have been heard and settled.
"His appeal to all employers and employees is to study what this law actually says and requires of them, so as to avoid being misinformed by inaccurate reports about its contents," Kasunda told our publication.
The DPP in its communication highlighted that: "The framers of the Labour Relations Act sought to promote sound labour relations through the protection and promotion of freedom of association, the encouragement of effective collective bargaining and the promotion of orderly and expeditious dispute settlement, conducive to social justice and economic development.
"President Chakwera has finally graduated from a Pastor to a Dictator. He has demonstrated that he is a President who can lie, considering that when the Bill was first introduced, he cheated civil servants and all Malawians that he was not aware of the Bill. This was a blue lie because all government bills generated by the Executive arm of Government pass through Cabinet before they are brought before Parliament."
The DPP said by assenting to the controversial Bill, President Chakwera has displayed he is an arrogant man.
"He does not like to take advice from the people who gave him and his Malawi Congress Party (MCP) the mandate to lead them.
"This law has the capacity to reverse the democratic gains made over the past 20 years. It is an attack against the governance architecture of our Constitution and the freedoms that symbolise modern day democratic Malawi.
"This amended Labour Relations law will mobilise Malawians with great fear as to what the Tonse Alliance government is up to. The Tonse Alliance government wants to deny workers the freedoms and rights that Malawians fearlessly fought for in the early 1990s. It is regrettable to witness the Tonse Alliance government deliberately diluting the democratic gains achieved over past two decades with reckless abandon.
"Assenting to this Bill is very disappointing, especially considering that the government did not make proper consultations with relevant stakeholders and the labour movement in this country to reach a consensus on how workers can seek redress over employment related grievances," he said.
Nomale argued that one of the fundamental principles and rights at work is “freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining”. This government, therefore, has no business denying workers the right to strike. It is a right, which workers and trade unions are entitled to enjoy without any intimidation.
He explained the amended law will take this country back to the dark days of one-party dictatorship ad urged Chakwera to reverse this decision to avert serious repercussions that may result from mass demonstrations by workers.