LWB workers to turn off water Aug 28 on strike

Lilongwe City currently facing intermittent supply of water due to what the utility authority has said is ongoing repairs of their pipes must brace for actual dry taps from August 28th 2012, employees have warned.

This time it will be an industrial action to force the Lilongwe Water Board  (LWB) and government to up their salaries in the wake of 49 percent currency devaluation and rising inflation now skidding to 20 percent month to month.

“We members of staff of Lilongwe Water Board wish to notify the residents of Lilongwe City that we will withdraw our labour at the expiry of the notice period which is 28th August 2012 we gave our employers and Government following the failure by the Ministry of Labour to reconcile the two parties,” reads part of a co-signed public notice placed in one of Malawi’s daily newspapers by Union President and Union Secretary General.

Disconnecting water on August 28

The workers met the management of the utility provider in February this year following what they termed as hostile economic conditions where demands of raising their monthly salary was presented.

The workers say their earning have been eroded by the earlier softening of the Malawi Kwacha 10 percent and later the nosedive of the currency again by 49 percent.

Also putting into account of some adjustments of prices on the market such as the increase in electricity by 70 percent and the 20 percent rise in inflation the salary increase is long overdue and necessary.

“We had declared a Salary Labour Dispute on the 19th of July 2012 and invoked all the procedures in the Malawi Labour Relations Act, No16 of 1996 hoping that the tree parties would be willing to come forward for a possible conciliation, mediation and or arbitration but alas they have opted to stay away,” reads the notice.

“We assure you that will not close the water but we will withdraw our labour completely as this is what the members have opted for through a vote in order that the 30 percent salary proposal was included in our 2012/13 Financial year budget by the Board is approved and implemented in full,” the workers say.

But despite the assurances that water will not be closed, some employees working at the treatment plants said it was impossible to let water flow into the city without being treated.

“Water will be closed not as a punitive measure to the Board forcing them to increase our salaries but as a safety measures to hundreds of thousands of Lilongwe City inhabitants. The water will not flow into the city because it will be untreated and may cause a plague of diseases to those who consume it or use it. It will have to be closed,” said one employee opting for anonymity.

Lilongwe Water Board is a government Statutory Corporation but operating on full cost recovery basis as a commercial entity.

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