UN warns Malawi staff on sit-in strike


Some of the UN staff on a sit-in
Some of the UN staff on a sit-in

The  United Nations (UN) is threatening to dismiss staff boycotting work to force their management in New York to peg their salaries to the dollar at present rates or effect a 90 percent average increase in basic salaries.

About 250 UN local staff in Malawi started a sit-in on Tuesday in Lilongwe and accuse UN country team (UNCT) on pegging  the kwacha to the current dollar rate on out of station allowances (DSA) only because they directly benefit from this when they go on field visits.

Meanwhile, UN has called the sit-in strike as “illegal” and that those on strike faces disciplinary action.

A memo from UNDP Deputy Resident Representatives Naomi Kitahara to the staff said “absence from work to undertake labour action is considered as unauthorized absence.”

She said staff members have been notified that they should provide an explanation for their absence from work as soon as possible and immediately inform their supervisors and Section Chiefs on when they will report for duty.

“Staff members who do not report for work and who fail to provide a satisfactory explanation within four working days from today ( by close of business on 15 April 2013), will receive a first warning letter requiring the submission by 17 April of any available evidence to justify the absence from work,” reads the memo.

The memo further says that staff members who continues to be absent from work and who do not provide a suitable response by 17 April to justify their absence, will receive a second and final warning letter, requesting them to comply with the previous requests by 30 April 2013 at the latest.

“Staff members who still do not report for work and who do not comply with the request to provide a satisfactory explanation and documentary evidence by the end of this notice period, expiring on 30 April 2013, will be considered for separation due to abandonment of post.”

UN acting resident coordinator Mahimbo Mdoe  said decisions on changes in salaries are not made at the local level and assured  staff that steps are being taken to try resolve the situation.

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