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OUR HOUSE Many workers live in mud-brick houses without electricity or running water.
week’s wages, and even kindling for cooking and water from a shared standpipe has to be bought. If parents want their children to go to school after the age of 10, it costs money, as do any and all medical treatments. In one village we met a G4S worker with
his wife and five children. After welcoming us into his mud-brick home, he told us how life had grown increasingly hard during more than 20 years working for G4S. Most of all, he mourned the loss of company loans, which used to see workers through the hardest times, but which G4S had now discontinued. This was a complaint we heard many times during our brief stay. The training school we saw was positively
Dickensian, with 20 or so trainees sat on wooden benches inside, while others washed clothes in a tub in the yard. At another small of ice, we asked to use the toilet, only for the staff to apologise that G4S did not supply them with toilet tissue. Many workers complained about the lack
of further education and prospects for promotion – supposedly core values for G4S.
During our stay, we met with the leaders of the TGLSSWU, who were keen to learn about union representation in the UK. We were also privileged to take part in a meeting of regional organisers, some of whom had walked more than 12 hours to be there. In the meeting, they told us of their wish to build a rice and maize mill, in the hope GMB would be able to help. At the moment, union members either buy their flour from a local mill or, if
“We will put the concerns of the workers we met to G4S in the UK.”
they are fortunate enough to be able to grow their own, have to pay for it to be ground down. Yet at relatively low cost, a mill would benefit not only union members, but also the wider community, with the potential to supplement TGLSSWU funds. It would also give work to two or three millers. Though we were unable to ascertain the cost of construction during our short visit, the cost of machinery was easier to estimate, at roughly £7,000. Robert Mkwezalaba, secretary general of the Malawi TUC, agreed the project would have benefits for many, while signs to highlight GMB’s involvement would promote the union’s active role around the world.
NICE TO MEET TGLSSWU! Brian and Dave met with regional union organisers.
Since returning to the UK, we have made A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE
our report available to the GMB international committee and the commercial services section committee, in the hope the CEC will authorise an appeal letter to GMB branches to raise the funds needed to build the mill.
We left Malawi with serious concerns about conditions there. During our stay, we helped recruit 82 new TGLSSWU members and collected a list of complaints from workers desperate for us to raise them in the UK. We would both like to thank everybody
we met for their warm welcomes and their patience in answering our endless questions. Every one of them carries out his or her role with passion and dedication in very dif icult conditions, and can rest assured we will do our utmost to put their concerns to G4S in this country, and work to further their cause at every opportunity. G4S employs some 650,000 staff around the world and each and every one of them has the right to be treated equally. This year, the Olympics will be televised worldwide and the diff erence in standards between the UK and elsewhere will not be lost on our Malawian brothers and sisters.
MILLS AND GLOOM Above: A quote shows how aff ordable a mill would be. Right: The Dickensian training centre.
G4S have recruited 10,000 staff for the Olympics and spent many millions of pounds on promotion. They will earn millions more as a result. Is a clean shirt and a new pair of shoes for every one of their employees in Malawi really too much to ask for?
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