Kamuzu International Airport staff abandons night shifts over unpaid dues

Staff at Malawi’s Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) have indefinitely abandoned night shifts in protest over unpaid professional allowances that date to years back, Nyasa Times has established.

The workers have not been paid their dues for working overtime shifts for reasons they say are only known to the management.

The implication to decision by the workers is that the airport will be dysfunctional after the normal working hours thereby inconveniencing Airline Operators and other stakeholders.

In a letter which Nyasa Times has in possession addressed to the airport commandant at KIA, the workers through their union leaders, advised the authorities to inform all airliners and private jet owners about the development to avoid any inconveniences.

The workers have since accused the airport management and the Malawi government of aggravating the issue by showing no interest to call for round table discussions in a bid to find lasting solution.

KIA

According to the letter, the workers started corresponding with the authorities on their grievances in July this year followed by several reminders in September and October.

Upon seeing that there was dead silence on the part of Airport Development Limited (ADL) and the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the workers met on November 22 where they unanimously agreed to write final warning to the management about their intended abandonment of the night shifts.

Reads the letter in part: “Let it be put on record that out of all these reminders your office hasn’t made any written response to us except the response from the Principal Secretary for Transport and Public Works. Despite the fact that all the above stated letters had validity periods, the Committee however hasn’t been strict with the period given considering that the issue was being handled by other relevant authorities other than our Ministry alone.

“Let It be underscored here that during the said referred period the Committee has been under intense pressure from members of staff for a final answer on the issue. It is this pressure that necessitated the Committee to call for a general meeting which was held on the 22nd November, 2012.”

It adds: “The meeting, therefore, resolved that a final notice be given to you, Sir, of 7 days from the date of receipt of this letter in which to finalize this issue. The meeting also resolved that after the expiry of the 7 days which will be on the 2nd December, 2012, members of staff will abandon working in shifts and resort to normal working hours alone. This means the Airport operating hours will be from 7:30 am – 17:00 pm with an observance of lunch hour as well as weekdays and Public holidays.”

When contacted later, KIA workers’ union committee chairperson Joel Mkandawire owned contents of the letter and further added that they are standing by it.

“If you say you have seen the letter then that is our position I don’t want to talk anything outside that, thank you,” responded Mkandawire.

Mkandawire however could not divulge further information on the amount of money they are owed but inside sources say it is in legion of millions.

Meanwhile, there was no immediate comment from ADL and ministry officials at the time of posting this story.

Civil servants in almost all government departments have been pleading for improved monthly wages to ease the soaring cost of living.

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