As squabbles of retrenchment and state broadcaster the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) radio and television merger continue, the disgruntled staff have resorted into holding a vigil at the broadcasting house at Chichiri in Blantyre.
The development comes after the management refused to continue paying the staff, despite having had in their possession a communiqué from the Secretary to the Treasury advising the Director General of MBC that they keep paying the retrenched staff from the current budget allocation.
“Reference is made to your letter dated 5th July 2012 addressed to the Secretary for Information and copied to the secretary to Treasury. You requested for K23 million as July 2012 salaries for the retrenched workers on the understanding that the 2012/13 Budget allocation to MBC caters for the retained 413 members of staff only.
“You may wish to be advised that salaries for the retrenched workers must be met from your 2012/13 Budget Provision until such a time when the issue will be conclusively resolved. Your usual cooperation will be greatly appreciated,” reads the letter from Secretary to Treasury, dated 16th July, 2012, signed by Goodluck Chaphulika.
Meanwhile, MBC management has referred the issue to the Ministry of Information, the parent Ministry for advice on the same, but the situation is not likely to change as it is Treasury that has a final say on all issues related to government expenditure.
When contacted for comment, one of the retrenched staff who opted to comment on a condition of anonymity said that it is worrisome to see that management is disobeying clear circulars from the government to pay them, as it is so clear that the whole merger process was halted.
“We are being discriminated, we are being treated like strangers. It was so even when we were reinstated by the courts. We were told by government to come back to work, yet here management is actually discriminating amongst us as to who to assign duties. As if that’s not enough, at the end of the month it doesn’t matter whether you are being assigned or not, they say, we can’t pay you,” one of the staff who spoke to Nyasa Times said.
Government earlier this year announced that the MBC/TVM merger had been suspended, prompting all retrenched staff including those who were engaged in the legal battle for reinstatement to go back to work.
The disgruntled workers were carrying President Joyce Banda’s portrait and placards.
The workers chanted songs poking fun at MBC’s top officials. In one of the songs the workers wondered how they were unfairly treated under Joyce Banda’s regime.
“Mutimana bwanji salaries muulamuliro wa amai (Why denying us salaries under Her Excellency President Joyce Banda’s regime),” chanted the workers.
Some of the placards reads: ‘Malopa anapita, inunso muzitizunza’. The other one says ‘We demand our salaries while waiting for our pension up to the retiring age’.
However, inspite the workers vigil, business at MBC seemed normal as those not concerned carried their works and appeared not to be bothered with the noise their workmates were making.
The vigil comes about a month after the workers held another one demanding their wages since September last year. MBC has since paid them the 10-month salaries but has ordered the workers to stop coming to work until they get their pension.
According to one of the MBC workers union member, the retrenched workers who were restored by the High Court last year until there was judicial review on the matter, have since opted to be paid their pension that redeployed to other government departments.
“We have refused to be posted to other government sections, we have since asked them to pay us our pension up to the retirement age. But according to the government directive and court order, the institution has to continue paying us our salaries until we get our pension at once,” said the member.
Meanwhile, the High Court in Blantyre has transferred the workers case to Industrial Court to conclude the matter, which determine the fate of the workers.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :