The Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecama) and that Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) have proposed a 150 percent minimum wage increase to mitigate the effects of a collapsing economy which has resulted in the rising cost of living.
MCTU Secretary General Robert Mkwezalamba said the union had proposed a minimum wage of K10, 000 from a meagre K4, 000 and that this could go up should the Kwacha be devalued.
“We may have to go back to the drawing table should the Kwacha be devalued. We submitted our proposal to government and we await a date to be set for the initial negotiations meeting,” said Mkwezalamba.
The proposal comes against the backdrop of skyrocketing prices of basic commodities due to a collapsing economy where prices have doubled in many instances. Fuel and forex to facilitate importation of goods and raw materials are scarce, which has resulted in many companies, organizations and individuals scaling down. Many employees have lost their jobs in the process.
Ecam Deputy Executive Director, Beyani Munthali confirmed they had engaged government to review the minimum wage threshold and that a meeting called by government with the stakeholders would soon be called to assess the proposal submitted in November 2011.
Secretary for Labour Wezi Kayira confirmed that government had indeed received both MCTU and Ecam proposals. He, however, attributed the delay of the consultative meeting to MCTU’s late submission of its proposal and assured that the meeting is on this month, April.
Malawians are currently facing unprecedented economic woes under the Bingu wa Mutrharika administration. Since September 2010, there has been an erratic availability of both fuel and forex here.
But the shortages grew worse in 2011 when motorists queued hours on end at service stations to buy fuel. Those seeking to purchase foreign exchange have had to wait for up to two months after applying to banks for the money.
The shortages lead to violent nationwide protests on July 20, 2011 where at least 20 people were killed by security agents.
President Mutharika blamed the shortage partly on International Monetary Fund (IMF) policies, while IMF and local economic experts repeatedly called on the government to devalue the Malawi kwacha to generate forex. The government is adamant.