Civil servants want 50 percent salary hike
Civil servants have joined the growing number of workers in the country demanding a pay hike claiming the 49 per cent devaluation of last May and 21 per cent inflation is hitting their pockets hard.
Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) is demanding that the government should come to the negotiating table again as promised when the average 21 percent salary adjustment was effected in June.
CSTU pres iden t El iah Kamphinda said in an interview on Saturday that when the union agreed to the salary adjustment by 21 percent average and 46 per cent for lowly paid civil servants, the situation was not as bad as it is at the moment.
"We got 21 per cent but now we want 50 percent. Since devaluation, prices of goods are still increasing, inflation is going up every month and we are suffering again," Kamphinda said.
CSTU and the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) had agreed to resume talks in July but almost 2 months down the line, this has not happened.
"We were supposed to start talks on harmonising the civil service salaries in July. We want to hear from them when this will happen," Kamphinda said.
Since the 2012/2013 budget was passed, President Joyce Banda has approved an 80 per cent hike on allowances and benefits for cabinet ministers and a 28 percent hike for MPs.
The water parastatal Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) last week yielded to workers' pressure for a 30 percent salary increment but they got 25 percent.
But Kamphinda said CSTU did not want to use the recent hikes the government has made as benchmarks because the union has always fought its own battles.
CSTU has previously threatened to go on strike if the government did not meet its demands but this has not come to pass.
In the 2012/13 budget, Finance Minister Ken Lipenga announced a 21 per cent salary increment for civil servants, which he said was above the 18 per cent projected inflation.
However, less than two months after implementing this, inflation has reached 21 per cent, according to National Statistical Office figures for August.
The national purse has the total amount of K86.8 billion as wages and salaries for civil servants and any revision can only be done during the midterm budget review scheduled for February.
Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) Secretary General Robert Mkwezalamba told our sister paper Malawi News on Saturday that the union has been holding back over 20 strikes among parastatal organisations as it sought to engage the government in an inclusive stakeholder forum to hammer out solutions and stem the strikes.
However, according t o Mkwezalamba, the government has been non-responsive to the proposal and MCTU has since given up trying to bring the government to the negotiation table.
He said the body will now focus its attention "on the plight of the workers with a view to encourage them to follow procedures [for going on strike] and only engage in legal strikes until the government gets to start thinking big."
But the Ministry of Labour, through its Principal Secretary, Wezi Kayira, said in the same paper that the government has started addressing the concerns of workers in both statutory corporations and civil service proper.
"Obviously, we know that government is going to respond to these issues and people should expect something positive soon," he told Malawi News.
Workers at Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) have also announced they will start a strike on Tuesday September 4 unless they get a 30 percent salary increment backdated to July 1, 2012.