Over 1,000 Electricity Supply Corporation (Escom) workers at Chichiri Power station on Monday staged a strike in demand for 35 percent pay increase, threatening to switch off national-wide power supply if their demands are not met.
The workers blocked entrances into the station’s premises denying vehicles from entering or coming out, creating tension and attention from passersby.
Reports stated that the strike had spilled to Lilongwe and Mzuzu and it came about just a day after government ended a three-month judicial deadlock that left the country’s court closed, denying the nation justice in the process.
In random interviews with some of the workers, indicate that Escom management has been failing to address their demands for the past three years, hence the strike.
“We have given the board up to Thursday to address our issue failing which come Monday next week the country should brace for national-wide blackouts. And sure of this, if they will not comply with our demands we will switch the power off.
“It seems they are taking us for granted. It’s notable that the cost of living has risen and we need a pay rise so that we are able to survive. How do they expect us to going with such meager salaries when prices of goods are rising almost on daily basis,” said one of the workers Richard Nkhoma.
Nkhoma disclosed that efforts to workers union had failed to yield results for the past three years, forcing the workers to stage a sit-in to echo their grievances.
Meanwhile, Escom board of directors is expected to meet on Thursday to deliberate on the demands of the workers. But the workers insisted that if the power house does not hike their salaries come Monday they will go on national-wide power blackout.
“This not a joke, we are struggling to fend our families while those in top positions are always smile with their hefty salaries. We need a pay rise so that we are at par with the rising cost of living,” commented another worker who opted for anonymity.
But, Escom’s publicist Kitty Chingota was quoted in The Daily Times of Tuesday March 27, 2012 describing the workers on strike as misguided, arguing they did not follow right procedures to stage the strike.
For the past years Malawi has been a land of power blackouts, which has affected the country‘s economy with some investors pulling out due to inadequate power supply.