Blantyre shop workers on strike for higher wages

Business in Limbe, a major shopping centre in Malawi’s commercial capital Blantyre was on Monday grounded to a halt following a sit-in strike by shop workers who were demanding higher monthly wages from their employers mostly Asians and Chinese.

The workers told Nyasa Times  that the industrial action was the only option remaining to force their employers to take a leaf from what shop owners in the Capital Lilongwe have done by hiking monthly payment of their counter parts by about 350 percent.

They said they are tired of the meager salaries they get from  the shop owners saying it does not tarry with the current high cost of living which has largely caused by the devaluation and floatation of the local currency, the Kwacha.

“We have been asking our employers to raise our salaries but they have been telling us to just quit if we are not satisfied with what he get,” said one worker who added that their salaries range between MK5, 000 and K13, 000 per month to the lowest and highest paid workers respectively.

Some shops were closed un Limbe
Some shops were closed un Limbe

The strikers have vowed to resume work only if their demands are met.

Another female worker in Limbe had earlier told Nyasa Times that besides low wages but female workers are also sexually molested by their employers who bonk them at will.

“Many girls have no choice and to keep their jobs they agree to sleep with the bosses. You may think that I am exaggerating just ask other girls they will tell you the same if they are honest,” she said.

They chanted: “Ndalama ndiwanu, dziko ndiwathu” as they moved from one shop to another ambushing shop owners and forcing them to close shops.

Earlier in May shop workers in Lilongwe staged a three day strike in which they successfully managed to force their employers to revise their working conditions which among others included salary adjustments.

Coupled with the interventions on Labour Minister, Eunice Makangala, the workers shop owners agreed to raise the minimum wage of K8, 400 to K18, 000 per month.

However, Makangala had earlier told reporters that she would also engage the shop owners in Blantyre to follow suit to avoid the Lilongwe situation which led to closure of many shops resulting in the massive loss of business. But nothing of the sort happened.

Shop workers in the northern city of Mzuzu also agreed with their employers in May to be paid a minimum of K18, 600 for the lowest paid.

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