Malawi employers warned against paying workers below minimum wage

Northern Region Area Labour Office has warned employers in the region against paying their employees below the Government current minimum wage of K8, 259 per month.

The region’s area labour officer Glory Nkuna sounded the warning in an interview Thursday when responding to concerns by workers at Taifa Market in Mzuzu City that some employees pay them below the government’s set minimum wage.

The workers who did not want to be named in fear of being fired said it is pathetic that some shop owners at the market pay them K3, 500 per month.

“We are working here [Taifa Market] just because we do not have something to do, but we are suffering a lot considering how expensive things are these days.

Wages:Worker shoud not get below national m minimum wage
Wages:Worker shoud not get below national m minimum wage

“We plead with the labour office to meet our bosses so that they can adjust our salaries a little bit higher to meet the current living costs,” said one of the workers.

She disclosed that the highest paid workers at the market are getting K8, 000 while the lowest are at K3, 500 which is far below the government minimum wage of K8, 259 per month.

In response, Nkuna said her office will carry out wages inspection following the allegations in order to establish a possible way forward.

However, she was quick to say that the workers should not be misled by the recent salary adjustments by Chinese and Indian owned shops that increased the perks for their workers up to K18, 500 per month.

“Such arrangements are done between the employer and the employees by taking into consideration the nature of their business.

“Our role is not to force the employers what to do, but rather we act as a mediator between the employer and the employees when they fail to agree on one thing,” Nkuna said.

She further said what employers and employees should know is that the current government minimum wage as of 2012/2013 financial year is K317 per day [K8,259 per month] and everybody should abide to this.

Nkuna, therefore, warned that should their office find that some employers including those at Taifa Market are still underpaying their workers, it will demand arrears from such employers.

Chairperson for Cross-border Traders in the region Screvenor Dzodzi said their committee does not have mandate to tell shop owners to increase pay for their workers.

He, however, was quick to say that should the workers press for a strike or any other positive move to initiate the hike, the committee would support them.

But one of the shop owners at Taifa Market, Winnie Mhango, said the workers demand for a hike is unfortunate. She said most of the workers make a lot of money by overcharging the merchandise without the knowledge of the shop owner.

“For example, a dress worthy K3,500 is sold at K4,000. The workers get the extra K500. So, why should one pay a lot of money to such employees,” wondered Mhango.

She said Taifa Market workers should not compare themselves with workers at Chinese and Indians shops which, she said, make a lot of profits because many people these days flock to them because they are cheap.

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