Working from the margins

Trade unions and the challenge of precarious work in Malawi, a scoping pilot study

GCRF Funding Cycle

Principal Investigator
Ali Watson

International Relations

ODA countries

Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 8

This work facilitated in depth interviews (15-20) with members of Malawian Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) to address the following questions:

  1. How is precarious work defined in Malawi?
  2. How do trade unions in Malawi engage with precariously employed workers?
  3. What health implications are there for precarious workers across sectors in Malawi?

The project was successful in its aims to begin to establish a Scotland – Malawi research network focused on work, employment and health. Key connections have been made with trade union partners as well as with academics keen to collaborate. Importantly, these collaborations are being shaped by the research priorities of MCTU, as MCTU staff were present for meetings and able to articulate their needs as an organisation, as well as to express the wider needs of the Malawian labour force. The partnership between the original applicant and MCTU has already resulted in a further successful GCRF application to finance researchers conducting exploratory qualitative research during a visit to Malawi and a two-day workshop in Scotland which MCTU delegates, and delegates from the Malawi University for Science and Technology, are anticipated to attend. Other immediate outcomes include MCTU joining the Malawi Scotland Partnership, and researchers in Scotland joining the Scotland Malawi partnership.

An equally important outcome was the education of Scottish academics regarding the trade union structure in Malawi, and political context consequent of the expertise of MCTU staff. By the end of the week, all parties felt optimistic about how a research network might develop and strengthen over the coming years, with the potential to promote better employment practices across both Malawi and Scotland.