Malawi civil servants reach pay deal with govt, end strike

Malawi state workers have called off a strike for higher pay that started last week after agreeing  a deal with the government, their union said on Thursday.

Civil servants had demanded a 65 percent pay rises. They say last year’s currency devaluation implemented by the government of Joyce Banda has caused massive price hikes.

Government spokesman Moses Kunkuyu said President Banda had ordered treasury to seek areas where the funds could be found, including further cuts to ministries’ budgets,  State House spending and scrapping some expenditures.

Eliah Kamphinda Banda, president of the Civil Service Trade Union in Malawi (CSTU), told a news conferece that they have agreed to end the civil servants’ strike in the country.

Kamphinda handed over petition to  deputy chief secretary to Office of President and Cabinet,Willie Samute: Job well done
Kamphinda handed over petition to deputy chief secretary to Office of President and Cabinet,Willie Samute: Job well done

He said new package for state workers has been agreed upon.

“We have signed a memorandum of understanding that we shall have new salary structure,” Kamphinda said.

“This means the end of the civil servants strike and all workers are supposed to return to work ,” he said.

In the agreement, government says it will review the salary structure for civil servants. The new salary structure will be effective January 1, 2013 but it will be implemented in March 2013. Arrears will be paid in July, 2013.

Before departure to Equatorial Guinea on Thursday, President Banda said she has directed that the civil servants should get their salary increment.

“Let me stress here that as I am leaving I have left some offer that whatever the case, civil servants should get salary increment,” President Banda told reporters.

She said the public servants were justified to ask for pay increase, saying she has instructed her government to consider their demands and cushion the effects of devaluation.

Workers complain that since the government devalued the local currency, the kwacha, by 49% in May, their incomes have been badly affected

“Looking at the way life is now, civil servants’ pay is supposed to be hiked by any means,” he said.

Economists say the lockdown has crippled Malawi’s labour sector and that it is likely that public servants will not have their February salaries on time.

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