Blantyre Water BoardÂ (BWB) employees,Â who staged a sit-in on Wednesday and Thursday, have agreed to resume work and reconnect water supply on condition that two senior managers are removed from the institution.
The workers downed their tools protesting a 10 percent pay hike against their 40 percent demand.
They disconnected water supply, but management on Wednesday night obtained an injunction at the Industrial Relations Court restraining the union from interfering with the machinery of the board that enhances water supply.
But at a briefing meeting by Minister for Water and Irrigation Ritchie Muheya and Minister of Labour Eunice Makangala on Thursday, the workers demanded the removal of BWB chief executive officer Andrew Thawe and director of finance and administration Henri Bakuwa.
The workers allege that the two senior managers have failed to act on their issues, including salary adjustments since 2009.
But the ministers argued that they could not fire the two because they are not responsible for firing or hiring. They asked for patience, saying the issues raised will receive due attention by the responsible authorities.
However, the ministersâ€™ responses drew heckling from the employees. They observed that reprisals of losing their jobs would follow if the two senior managers remained at the institution.
But Muheya calmed their nerves by assuring them that no one will be victimised for protesting against the 10 percent salary increment which he stated was their right to fair labour practices.
On the 40 percent salary hike demand, the ministers pledged to return to the institution with responses after consulting President Joyce Banda, but asked for a one month grace period.
Muheya said the ministers noted with regret that concerns of the workers which date back to 2009 remain unresolved.
On Wednesday, employees prevented some senior managers from attending to business at the institution as the staffÂ also disconnected water supply to customers.
Residents of the City of Blantyre, which has a population of about 750 000 according to the 2008 Population and Housing Census, and surrounding areas on Wednesday and Thursday endured dry taps after the employees disconnected water supply.
Earlier, trade union president James Monjeza said his members are complying fully with the injunction.
The strike came two days after Makangala asked the employees to accept the 10 percent salary increment despite the rising cost of of living in the country following the devaluation of the kwacha by about 50 percent.
Besides affecting domestic and industrial users, Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH), the main referral hospital, was also severely affected.
QECH chief hospital administrator Themba Mhango on Thursday said the hospital is starved of water and that their efforts to persuade staff at BWB to allow a water bowser to deliver the commodity proved futile.
â€œWe donâ€™t have water. Care will be compromised and some services will be scaled down,â€ he said.