Malawi teachers vow to join civil servants strike: TUM leader accused of pocketing govt bribes

Primary school teachers in Malawi are accusing president of Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) of receiving bribes from government authorities to confuse them on the participation of the countrywide civil servants slated from Monday.

The leaders of the Civil Servants Trade Union  (CSTU) are calling all civil servants in the country to stage a nationwide work boycott after discussions with government authorities on their demand to have their salaries increased and improved working conditions failed to yield desired results.

However leaders of the Teachers Union of Malawi which is also part of the civil service is asking teachers to refrain from taking part in strike arguing that they have already presented their grievances to the government authorities and are now waiting for the reply.

TUM’s president Chauluka Muwake is accusing CSTU leaders for jumping the gun and rushing for the strike before exhausting all the channels of communication with government authorities.strike

“There is no way we can defy the procedure and start going into strike before we talk with government. We were elected to lead and represent people and we have not done that much and why should we turn back and start telling them that we should start strike while we have not done our home work.

“We have written the government and we are just waiting for them to give the reply. So when the reply comes we shall tell the teachers,” said Muwake.

But a grouping of concerned teachers in Blantyre has vowed to defy the TUM’s call saying they will boycott classes from Monday.

Chairperson of the grouping, Innocent Banda, is strongly appealing to all the teachers that they should take part in the civil servants strike which is starting Monday, saying the teachers are not happy with the speech by the TUM’s president stopping them from participating in the strike.

“We want to show that we are very much concerned with our own plight hence we are joining the strike. We receive little salary. They are peanuts and worse still we receive them very late.  So joining the strike would be one way of telling the government that teachers also need their salaries increased with immediate effect,”he said.

Banda said although they are fully away of the impact of the strike on students who are about to sit for their examinations, he feels this should be a wakeup call to the government authorities to act quickly to their demand and save the learners.

However, Muwake is warning that the Union will not shield teachers taking part in the strike if anything happen to them.

The civil servants strike started on a very dull note last Monday with some civil servants working but reached boiling point Tuesday when irate strikers in the capital Lilongwe marched to government offices forcing some workers who had been working out of their offices.

However, negotiations to end the strike ended in deadlock on Thursday forcing CSTU  leaders to declare the previously-planned two days strike to indefinite strike.

Meanwhile, nurses who had been working ‘on humanitarian grounds’ have given the government 14 days to respond to the salary increment demands saying failing which they say will join the strike.

But President Banda who spoke through her press officer Steve Mhlane said the civil servants should return to work as their strike could paralyze government operations.

“The President feels it would be proper for the civil servants to continue with negotiations while their grievances are being looked into,” said Mhlane.

In the 2012-2013 National Budget government put a 21 percent increment on civil servants salaries which they feel is nothing considering the recurrent price hikes of goods and services due to the devaluation and floatation of Malawi kwacha.

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