TIMB advocates fair labour practices for tobacco sector

Monalisa Chikwengo

CONDITIONS of service for tobacco farm workers are set to change for the better following an initiative by the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) to host a two-day workshop aimed at raising awareness about the Agricultural Labour Practice (ALP) code, which sets out minimum standards for working on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe.

The workshop, which was held in Harare from May 26 to 27 this year, sought to assess the applicability of the ALP code as a monitoring and evaluation tool for promoting decent work ethics in the tobacco industry.

It also provided a platform for sector players to exchange and share information on best practices in agriculture.

TIMB public relations officer, Mrs Chelesani Tsarwe said the ALP code was developed to act as a guide for the minimum standards of working, including family and hired labour on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe.

“The ALP code defines the labour practices, principles, and standards to be met on all tobacco farms. The code comprises seven principles and measurable standards based on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) declaration on fundamental principles and rights at work and other relevant conventions. It gives a summary of sustainable operating procedures (SOPs) on how it shall be used to effectively get to the required results,” she said.

TIMB’s efforts to encourage the adoption of the ALP code are part of wider efforts to promote ethical labour practices in the tobacco sector and ensure that workers are treated fairly and with dignity.

“Additionally, it emphasises how farmers and stakeholders will adhere to the rule and how it will be applied. In addition, the code classifies violations according to their seriousness and frequency and specifies any applicable punishments,” she said.

All stakeholders are expected to carefully and transparently implement this code in order to ensure the gradual abolition of child labour and forced labour on tobacco farms, to enhance social and working circumstances, and to defend human rights.

TIMB is committed to progressively eliminate child labour and other labour abuses where they are found and to achieve safe and fair working conditions on all farms from, which it sources tobacco.

“Through an integrated monitoring and reporting approach, TIMB intends to work with other stakeholders, such as farmer associations and civil society organisations to encourage the implementation of the ALP code. All essential code implementers, such as labour officers, National Employment Council (NEC) agriculture and tobacco officers, Agritex, farmer associations’ training officers and others will receive training,” added Mrs Tsarwe.

Farmers and contractors are expected to apply this code in a diligent and transparent manner, and to work with TIMB on continuously improving agricultural labour practices.

“Potential consequences for those who do not comply with the code depend on the severity of the offences they would be accused of while some risk prosecution and withdrawal from growers’ database,” said Mrs Tsarwe.

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