MASM employees protest against forced meal contributions

Medical Aid Society of Malawi (Masm) employees are strongly protesting against the organization’s newly introduced directive from the medical director forcing monthly salary deductions for meals.

The employees have described the directive as draconian and ancient way of administration where an institution forces employees to buy food which they do not like.

The medical director, George Ganiza sent the  Masm employees a memo dated September 27 2012 advising them that their salaries will be deducted monthly to cover lunch but the employees have protested against the directive saying they should not be forced to eat food they do not like.

“Management has directed that with effect from 1st November 2012, staff meals shall be contributory. Staff shall contribute according to grade while the company shall subsidize on the same. Contribution from staff shall be as follows: grade A-B K350 and company contribution per meal per employee K150; grade C-D-E K250 and company K150; grade F K150 and company contribution K150 and grade G K100 and company contribution K150,” reads the memo in part.

According to the memo each clinic shall manage its own food float. This means that the company shall release a lump sum each month that would take each clinic through the month.

“Each clinic needs to elect a food committee which shall be responsible for staff meals. This committee shall be responsible for managing the float. Staff should note that the contributions for the meals start in October 2012 which means the October pay slips shall reflect the deductions. No quotations shall thereof be sent to head office for approval as meals shall now be managed locally at each clinic,” reads the memo.

After the directive, staff at Kanjedza Medi Clinic formed a food committee. It comprised: Alick Kanjodo representing dental department, Tadele Rare representing the lab department, Ruth Chikoti representing nurses, Juliet Singini representing the reception, Mary Chimwaza representing cleaners and Bettie Sinjani representing clinicians.

One employee said management imposed the food on them so that there is no break during lunch hour.

“But, look, we told management that we would rotate to ensure that services are provided during lunch hour. But they still insisted that we should all eat from the kitchen. We do not like the food. Why should they force us to eat their food? Sometimes the food comes very late around 3 pm. Should we suffer till that time? Sometimes, one may not want to eat but his or her salary will be deducted,” one employee said.

Another employee added, “We wonder why they have started deductions because in the past the food was provided to us freely. But even that time we protested against not taking lunch hour break. The company does not want us to rest over lunch but we are saying we want our lunch hour break. We want to rest. With their food arrangement, we cannot break for lunch. We continue working until food is ready.”

The period for the contributions and deductions is 24 working days per month.

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