Malawi President Banda comments on strike: ‘Civil servants should get pay hike’

Malawi President Joyce Banda has for the first time spoken about the ongoing strike by civil servants demanding pay rise.

Most of Malawi’s estimated 120,000 civil servants are on strike demanding wage increases to counter the rising cost of living.

Classrooms in public schools countrywide were empty due to the downing of tools by teachers over pay demands. And nurses have threatened to join.

Speaking at Blantyre-Chileka International Airport before departure to   Equatorial Guinea on Thursday, President Banda said she has directed that the civil servants should get their salary increment.

President Banda addressing journalists before departure

President Banda addressing journalists before departure

“Let me stress here that as I am leaving I have left some offer that whatever the case, civil servants should get salary increment,” President Banda told reporters.

She said the public servants were justified to ask for pay increase, saying she has instructed her government to consider their demands and cushion the effects of devaluation.

Workers complain that since the government devalued the local currency, the kwacha, by 49% in May, their incomes have been badly affected

“Looking at the way life is now, civil servants’ pay is supposed to be hiked by any means,” he said.

“I cannot say much everybody knows what our country is going through,” said President, adding that she is currently trimming some expenses in her office and reducing allocations to Government departments to meet the needs of the civil servants.

The strike is the biggest since Joyce Banda became president last year. Trade unions are demanding a 65% wage increase, about double the inflation rate.

Malawi’s two international airports, in Blantyre and Lilongwe, were forced to shut down. Passengers flying on South African Airways (SAA), Kenya Airways and Ethiopian Airlines were stranded.

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