Workers compensation fund in the offing

After years of waiting, workers in the country can now afford a smile following the engagement of an International Labour Organisation  (ILO) consultant to help government set up a workers compensation fund.

The fund is a form of insurance providing wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of their job.

Despite that the law to set up the fund was enacted in 2000, there has been nothing on the ground to that effect and it takes long before injured workers are compensated.

A case in point is that of Abraham Siliwonde, a former worker at Kayelekera Uranium Mine in Karonga who lost sight in the course of his work, and because of his condition, the company fired and gave him $150 (about K110 000).

His medical report showed that his eye problem was due to radiation.

He engaged lawyers so that he is compensated.

In an interview in Lilongwe on Friday, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Kasaila said the process to set up the fund is long overdue.

“The law provides that we set up a workers compensation fund and despite the process starting in 2000, things were not moving at a pace that we wanted,” he said.

Kasaila said the fund will be administered by an independent body comprising government officials, lawyers, employers and employees and will be tasked with the responsibility of mobilising resources to be used to compensate workers injured in line of duty.

Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) secretary general Dennis Kalekeni hailed government for speeding up the process to set this fund, saying a similar body is working wonders in Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“This body could have been set up yesterday because when one gets injured in the course of duty the compensation takes long to be processed,” he said.

Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) executive director Beyani Munthali said consultations with various stakeholders are underway to determine what kind of fund will be set up because it is an important body that provides social protection.

“In other countries, the fund is taken care of by a national authority. There are several issues we need to understand before setting up the fund,” he said. ■

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