Malawi doctors and nurses are planning to go on a nationwide strike demanding government ton increase their allowances and higher pay, a situation that will put further strain on the country’s crumbling public healthcare facilities.
The medical personnel are complaining that their salaries have been steadily eroded by the country’s galloping inflation rate and weakening buying power of local currency, Kwacha.
Government bars health workers and those from other essential services from striking but nurses have often defied the directive – when necessary.
Already, staff at Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH) in Lilongwe are serving a seven-day notice to withdraw labour if the employers will not address their grievances which include revising allowances and salaries.
In a letter dated November 9 2014 addressed to the Ministry of Health, the staff said they feel cheated that government has not revised their allowances and salaries given the “very risky” circumstances they work under.
Stella Warren, chairperson of the KCH social welfare committee, said they will down tools until all issues are resolved.
“We want salary harmonisation. From Tuesday [this]week, we also demand that they [government] should replace locum with overtime, we cannot live like this,” said Warren as quoted in the local press.
Ministry of Health chief medical services director Charles Mwansambo said government would work on the issues.
Nurses at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre and Zomba Central hospital are also pressing for higher pay and improved working conditions.
Economic analysts have warned that Malawi is likely to see more strikes by dissatisfied workers grappling with an economic gloom with donor freeze.
Meanwhile, from courtroom staff on strike for the past five months to primary school teachers boycotting classes to obtain salaries not paid for the past six months, labour militancy appears to be on the rise. Last week, supporting staff of the University of Malawi launched a sit in to demand a 45 percent salary hike.
The Anti-Corruption Bureau is also seeing a job action over wages while the Bureau chief says the office has been underfunded for investigations into the Cashgate scandal that brought down former president Joyce Banda.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :