Residents of Blantyre City and surrounding areas should brace for erratic water supply following disconnection of the system by some Blantyre Water Board (BWB) employees.
The employees on Wednesday started a sit-in to press management to effect a 40 percent salary increase.
The strike comes just two days after Minister of Labour Eunice Makangala asked the staff to accept a proposed 10 percent salary increment despite the rising cost of living the country is undergoing following the recent devaluation of the kwacha by about 49 percent.
BWB director of finance and administration Henri Bakuwa and his counterpart, trade union president James Monjeza, confirmed the disconnection of the water supply.
Bakuwa described the strike as â€œillegal and prematureâ€ because Makangala promised to take up the matter with higher authorities.
Said Bakuwa: â€œLetâ€™s give the negotiation the due process it deserves. As management, we will not allow the taps to remain closed. It is going to be a great inconvenience to customers.â€
Bakuwa said management has advised the disgruntled employees not to tamper with the flow of water. But he said he got reports that some employees have closed water intakes.
He could not, however, say how soon residents may experience dry taps.
Monjeza also confirmed the disconnection.
He said the normalisation of supply depends on the goodwill of the employees as they engage management.
Monjeza said the union had a discussion with management on the issue and on Thursday, there will be an emergency board meeting to look into the issue.
BWB management and representatives of the employees in April agreed on a 40 percent salary adjustment, but government only approved a 10 percent hike, citing lack of money.
The development irked the employees and attracted the intervention of Makangala on Monday, who engaged the union and management in separate meetings that lasted for hours. But the exercise seems to have failed to sway the workers.
Makangala said the 10 percent was arrived at because when the administration of President Joyce Banda came to office, the coffers were dry.
The 10 percent increment was effective this month.