Malawi Prison staff across the country has began strike action on Thursday to force government to give them an allocation from the K157 billion Covid-19 fund.
The Malawi Defence Force, Malawi Police Service and Immigration Department have been given funds from the National Response to Coronavirus but the prison department has been left out.
Prison warders at Chichiri Prison in Blantyre, Zomba Maximum Prison and Maula Prison in Lilongwe are among those who have stopped working.
But there was “lockdown” – where prisoners are confined to their cells – at most prisons.
Malawi Prisons Service chief commissioner Wandika Phiri claimed the industrial action was unjustified and blasted it as “unlawful”.
She had summoned leaders of the sit-in strike for a meeting but negotiations with the junior staff broke down.
The prison warders are also demanding promotions which government promised them early last year, general welfare.
It is believed police may have to be drafted in to ensure the safety of inmates.
The country’s prisons hold about 14 000 prisoners in a capacity of 5 500.
The prisoners strike comes after doctors and nurses in public hospitals are also on strike.