Civil servants in the northern region braved intermittent showers and cold weather on Wednesday by participating in a protest march to present a four page petition addressed to President Joyce Banda asking her government implement a host of demands.
Apart from the salary harmonization in the public service, the civil servants also want an upward revision of their allowances, leave grant, support to civil servants living with HIV, reduction of the vacancy rate, reduction of taxes on pensions, promotions and quality public service.
The protests, which happened simultaneously throughout the major cities of Mzuzu, Lilongwe and Blantyre, came barely 24 hours the Malawi government had asked the striking civil servants through a news statement to immediately return to work if their negotiating team continues to be unavailable for final negotiations with Government.
Speaking when he delivered Petition to Director of administration for Mzuzu City Assembly, vice president of Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU), Edwin Theu said “We have come here to present our petition to high authorities through your office. Among other things we want government to increase our salaries with at least 67 percent, considering the high cost of living in the country.”
Theu further said their body would like to see government promoting civil servants on merit and not being selective.
The march was punctuated with funeral dirges, exaggarrated weeping by some and sombreness to send a message to the government that all was not well with them.
The civil servats chanted: “Anafoira boma lili lao, Anafoira boma lili lao! Amayi awa! eeeeh! Amayi awa! Boma lili lawo“, insinuating that President Joyce Banda is goofing in as far as taking good care of the civil servants is concerned.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Information released an unsigned statement purportedly issued by the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) stating that government had offered its employees a pay hike.
Nothing yet has been disclosed about the new pay packet although Civil Servants have remained adamant and resolute in demanding a 67 percent pay hike which they say will cushion them against the floatation and the May 2012 devaluation of the Malawi Kwacha.
The Civil Servants also indicated that they will make fresh demand when the 2013/14 financial year became operational in July 2013.
The strike started slowly last week but has spread with teachers joining in. Nurses have also threatened to join the strike.
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