Employees working in Airtel Shops and back offices have resolved to go on strike allegedly due to the company’s failure to put them on medical scheme.
They also allege that the company has refused to give them a salary increment over the past four years.
These are workers being managed by Workforce Recruitment Services, a firm subcontracted by Airtel Malawi.
Nyasa Times has learnt that the workers have engaged the Communication Workers Union of Malawi (Cowuma) to mediate their talks with Airtel Malawi and Workforce Recruitment Services.
Many of the workers feel the company is just exploiting them, wondering why it refuses to give them a salary increment yet “it makes billions of profits every year”.
They say, to make matters worse, the company cancelled their medical aid in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic yet many of the workers interact with customers on daily basis thereby exposing them to risks of infection.
According to the workers, the company says it cannot afford to put them on medical aid because “it does not have money”.
They say this demonstrates that Airtel Malawi only cares about making money, has no regard for the workers.
The workers have since asked the Ministry of Information to also intervene in the matter.
Nyasa Times has also learnt that the workers, through Cowuma, declared a dispute with the Ministry of Labour but Workforce Recruitment Services resorted to using threats and has said workers should find their own means when they get sick or should just resign.
As a result, the workers feel their employers actions are inhumane hence their desire to go on strike.
They feel they are being treated as “not humans who have families to feed and look after”.
Cowuma Secretary General, Hamilton Deleza, confirmed that the union is indeed mediating the talks between the workers and Airtel and Workforce Recruitment services, saying they fully support the workers.
“We would like the employer to acknowledge that it is unfair labour practice to not put workers on medical aid. It is also unacceptable to expect workers to work on the same salary for over 4 years. Prices of goods and services four years ago are not the same as today. Airtel and its subcontractors must always include an element of annual labour cost increase in form of salary increments and all workers should be on medical aid,” said Deleza.
He added: “It is very sad that Airtel has donated over K100 million towards Covid-19 fight yet at the same time cancel medical aid for its employees. It is ironical and kind of double standards. Charity begins at home.
“We have been engaging them since 2019 but nothing positive has come out. We therefore declared a dispute in January 2021 with the Principal Secretary for Labour where we have had conciliation meetings but we could not agree. Having failed to agree and looking at the strength of the workers complaint, the only option available now is to withdraw labour in form of an industrial action”.
He further said Cowuma will serve a 7 day notice of strike and once that notice is completed then the industrial action can start.
“Actually Cowuma is worried that Airtel and other subcontractors are able to allow their employees on medical aid as well as give them annual increments yet the same provisions seem to be impossible with Workforce Recruitment Services employees. It is pure case of discrimination at the workplace hence violation of basic rights,” Deleza said.
There has been no immediate response from Airtel Malawi and Workforce Recruitment Services.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :