Malawi Minister fires 21 workers for demanding pay hike

Mzuzu based Mimosa Court Hotel owned by Minister of Agriculture, Peter Mwanza has fired 21 workers for demanding a 100 percent pay hike saying the Hotel is a private company owned by individuals, not a public corporation or a government entity.

The workers were irked that many of them were getting MK9,000 per month despite putting in more man hours which the Hotel did not pay them. They said they worked 10 or 11-hour shifts a day. The hotel manager gets MK80,000, according to sources.

Shop workers in Malawi get MK18, 600 per month.

One of the dismissed workers told Nyasa Times that they wrote the Hotel management on 25 May 2013, demanding the pay hike. Apart from that, they also outlined a number of grievances, which they wanted resolved.

Mwanza: Sack workers
Mwanza: Sack workers

They also made their intent to strike or stage a sit in if management did not show commitment in addressing their grievances by June 3, 2013.

They complained of ill treatment by the Hotel’s management saying when a worker is sick, the Hotel does not give them sick leave or days off to recuperate.

The worker claimed the Hotel’s Managing Director Salome Mwanza (daughter) shouted at the workers during one of the meeting before their dismissals saying there is no company in Malawi that can effect a 100 percent pay hike.

Nyasa Times was unable to reach Mwanza for comment but got hold of a copy of the four paged dismissal letter written to one of the fired workers.

“Following your presentation of a list of grievances to the Hotel Manager… and your subsequent decision to perform a sit strike without fist following procedure to have a discussion on these issues… this letter is to notify you of your summary dismissal effective immediately for illegal behavior,” Mwanza said.

In it, Mwanza also claimed the Hotel has gone beyond what other companies do for their employees challenging that the company would do that again. She did not elaborate.

“We have tried to consider the needs of all our employees. A company cannot run without unity. The people have to be united in vision to be successful,” she said.

However, the Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MTCU) has faulted the Hotel for its decision saying it infringes section 31 of the Malawi constitution.

The section states that every person shall be entitled to fair wages and equal remuneration for work of equal value without distinction of any kind.

“The dismissals are illegal because the Hotel did not follow procedures. What could have happened is that the employer should have engaged employers’ representatives for a round table discussions without workers staging a sit in,” Ousm Zimba, MCTU representative in the north said.

Zimba said the workers were justified in demanding a pay increase saying they were getting under minimum wage considering the hours they worked.

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