The Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security, in partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) held a workshop in Maputo, on February 20 and 21, 2019, to train Judges of Labor Courts and Labor Inspectors on a Mozambican HIV Law approved 2014, protecting persons, workers and job seekers living with HIV and AIDS.
Apart from the HIV and AIDS Legislation, the over 80 officials that included labor conflict mediators, also received training in the areas of health in general, hygiene and safety at work as well as adherence to labor laws.
Her Excellency the Minister of Labor, Employment and Social Security, Victoria Diogo, in her opening remarks the workshop, acknowledged that the HIV and AIDS epidemic is a major challenge for the work force stressing that preventive measures and education play a major role in the Government’s approach to stop the spread of HIV and AIDS in the workplace.
Ms. Diogo explained that the Government has created the inspectorate of labor to ensure that employers and companies observe labor laws and regulations, and that workers are protected, and their rights respected. “Unfortunately, we continue to witness a worsening of labor relations and it is our role to educate employers and employees alike about the need to keep everyone healthy and the benefits of a healthy and secure work environment. This also contributes to prevention and resolution of labor conflicts”.
Noting the magnitude of the task, the Minister stressed the need for everyone to be involved in dealing with the epidemic. “I believe that this training will contribute to raising awareness among employers and socio-professional organizations, workers and society in general, about the importance of maintaining healthy workers”.
The Minister stated that Mozambique is part of the international labor convention and is committed to its implementation, stressing the importance of aligning national legislation to human rights mechanisms. She thanked the support and partnership of the UN agencies, particularly UNDP, ILO and UNAIDS who are supporting this initiate.
Dr.Francisco Mbofana the Executive Secretary of National AIDS Council (CNCS) reiterated that Mozambique is among the five countries in the world with the highest rate of new HIV infections and is among the first three African nations with the highest seroprevalence rate. “The epidemic is a public health problem that seriously threatens the development of the country”.
He added that the workshop is an opportunity of learning on how to apply the legislation on HIV and AIDS. “Discrimination comes from lack of knowledge. Therefore, we believe that this workshop is a contribution to raise awareness to ensure the prevention of HIV and AIDS and empower both employers and employees to improve the working environment and production,” Dr. Mbofana said.
Speaking on behalf of the supporting UN Agencies, Edmundo Werner from ILO said that the UN is committed and will continue to support the Government in training workers to combat HIV and AIDS and discrimination in the workplace. "We are together as part of a UN group to provide our support and technical assistance and other types of cooperation so that training can be developed," he concluded.
The HIV and AIDS epidemic is one of the most serious challenges Mozambique faces in the pursuit of better living conditions for all its citizens through sustainable development. The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the country the fourth most critical epidemic in the world (WHO 2016).
A national survey in 2015, revealed that HIV prevalence among adults aged 15-49 is 13.2%; with incidence higher in urban areas compared to rural areas and girls and women disproportionately the most affected when compared to men in the same age groups (IMASIDA 2015).
As most of those affected are of working age, one consequence of this scenario has been low productivity as well as discrimination and stigma against people living with HIV, human rights violation through unfair dismissals, a rise in labor conflicts hampering access to livelihoods and treatment. The training was held to address this situation.