Jubilation at Malawi ‘freedom park’ over new salary structure for civil servants

There was jubilation and drama at Capital Hill in Lilongwe on Friday, February 22, 2013 as civil servants cheerfully welcomed the 61 percent pay hike following the pact signed on Thursday evening between Government and Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU).

When CSTU President Elia Kamphinda Banda broke the news to thousands of civil servants who gathered at the usual Capital Hill Freedom Park, the civil servants went delirious with excitement, calling Kamphinda all sorts of names from ‘principled fighter’ to ‘hero.’

The civil servants cheered; chanted and congratulated one another for the won battle while one long-serving civil servant, Akia Mbaluko, ‘honoured Kamphinda with a Doctorate degree.’

Kamphinda Banda: Hailed by public-workers for sealing new perks deal with government
Kamphinda Banda: Hailed by public-workers for sealing new perks deal with government

“Following your clean file as CSTU President, and following how you have led us through this battle, I, Akia Mbaluko award you an honorably doctorate degree of ‘Fast Thinking Among Civil Servants (FTCS)!” declared Mbaluko, amid cheering, laughter and hand clapping.

Mbaluko, who claims to have served in civil service for over 35 years, told Malawi News Agency (Mana) that he was very moved by Kamphinda’s bravery throughout the struggle and that he (CSTU President) deserved the honour.

Other civil servants interviewed at random expressed gratitude over the new salary structure and the fact that their salaries would be reviewed again in July 2013.

“We are very happy with the news and we appreciate the parental attitude that Government has shown to us,” said Simon Jonas “Savimbi” Mtonga, who had been one of the very proactive protestor during the 10-day strike civil servants staged.

Mtonga, Chief Security Officer at Agriculture Ministry, said the most amazing thing throughout the industrial action was the fact that nothing was damaged.

After the address from the CSTU President, the jubilating civil servants began a clean-up exercise, removing the tree branches they had heaped at the entrance of every government building.

They wound up the exercise by publicly ‘cremating’ the mock coffin they had always carried around during the strike.

“This now marks the end of our funeral ceremony, but we should always remember to appear in large numbers as we have done should another funeral occur,” said the ‘director of ceremony,’ Savimbi.

On Thursday evening, Government through its negotiating team and CSTU signed an 11-point Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which, among other things, the lowest salary in civil service was hiked by 61 percent; and the 5-day maximum limit on subsistence allowance was lifted forthwith.

The MoU also indicated that the pay hike was effective January 1, 2013 and that arrears would be paid in July but the implementation of the new salary structure would be in March, 2013.

According to the document, there will also be a salary review in July and CSTU and Government will meet on 19 March 2013 for 2013/2014 Budget consultations while meetings on other outstanding issues from the February 20 CSTU Petition will be on-going.

The civil servants’ industrial action commenced on Monday February 11, 2013 and on Thursday, February 20, 2013civil servants in Lilongwe and Mzuzu took to the streets where they conducted a peaceful march to government offices where the presented a petition.

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