Shop workers strike over, Malawi govt promises increased minimum wage

Shop and domestic workers in Malawi’s capital city Lilongwe on Tuesday agreed to call off their two day strike after their employers agreed to raise the minimum wage to K18,600 per month with government also promising that it will adjust upward the current minmum wage which at K317 per month.

The Lilongwe workers and their employers who most of them are shop owners and include Malawians of Asian origin, Nigerians, Chinese, Lebanese and Burundi also agreed to improve working conditions.

Most of the workers were said to be getting less than K10,000, were not entitled to an annual leave, women had no maternity leave and also were working in poor health and safety conditions.

After the negotiations Malawi’s Minister of Labour Eunice Makangala admitted that the current government stipulated minimum wage was the major problem in setting wages for shop and domestic workers in the country.

Minister of Lobour Eunice Makangala speaking during the round table discussion. pic by Felix Washon. MANA
Minister of Lobour Eunice Makangala speaking during the round table discussion. pic by Felix Washon. MANA

“We will soon be meeting other stakeholders to adjust upwards the current minimum wage which is currently at K317 per day or K8,242 per month,” she said.

Makangala could not say how much would be the new minimum wage saying this would have to be agreed by all the stakeholders.

The Lilongwe shop and domestic workers were demanding an increment of 200 per cent for those receiving less than K10,000 per month and 150 per cent for those getting K10,000 per month and an improvement in their working conditions.

After the negotiations the two sides signed an agreement carrying the new minimum wage.

Shop and domestic workers from the other major cities of Blantyre, Mzuzu and Zomba were planning to join the strike and Makangala said government will soon hold meetings with employers from these areas also to persuade them to also implement the issues that have been agreed in Lilongwe.

Vice Chairperson of the Union Charles Saidi said the workers were so far satisfied with the new agreements.

The shop and domestic workers around in the Capital City’s Bwalo la Njobvu, one of the busiest in the country, went on a strike on Monday shutting down the entire business centre to push for better pay and condition of services.

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