Civil servants in Malawi have given government a seven-day ultimatum to implement a 67 percent salary increment in arrears dating back to July 2011.
Disclosing this in an interview on Monday, Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) president Eliah Kamphinda Banda said the ultimatum was communicated to the authorities during a meeting with the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) on Friday.
The fresh demand comes one week after Secretary to the President and Cabinet (SPC) Bright Msaka announced in a communiquÃ© that government has instituted a committee to look into salaries of all its 100 000-plus civil servants and recommend an appropriate percentage increase.
Msaka said once the committee, which he said had already started work, has made recommendations, new salaries would be implemented in July 2012 at the start of the new financial year.
On Monday, Msaka was said to be in a meeting when his office was contacted to react to the ultimatum whereas GNT chairperson and Principal Secretary for Health Willie Samute declined to comment.
“It was an internal meeting, so we have no comment at the moment,” said Samute.
At the Friday meeting, the civil servants were also represented by the Teachersâ€™ Union of Malawi (TUM) and the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives of Malawi (Nonm), according toÂ Kamphinda Banda.
Said Kamphinda Banda: “The Government Negotiating Team met with the unions and it is at that meeting where CSTU, the Teachersâ€™ Union and the Nurses Union gave government seven days within which to give us 67 percent salary increase on top of the seven percent [announced earlier].
“Government has been buying time on the contentious seven percent salary increase which civil servants said it was too little in the current economic crisis and [the] heavy taxes eroding our erratic salaries.
“Our demands are from July 2011 because it is the month government gave us the seven percent which civil servants refused. It is also the month [that the] zero-deficit budget started.”
â€˜We know what is expected of usâ€™
The union leader said if government will not implement the demand at the expiry of the period, which ends this Thursday, their constituents “know exactly” what is expected of them.
Asked if the civil servants have made the decision because the Judiciary and its support staff have been rewarded a 40 percent pay rise in arrears after staging a two-and-a -half month strike, the CSTU president admitted the timing of their demand might be misunderstood.
In September last year, government approved a seven percent salary increase for civil servants which put the SPC, who is head of civil service, at K893 876 (about $5 352) per month and the lowest paid employee on Grade R1 at K12 338 (about $74).
If government is to implement the demand to increase the salaries by 67 percent, it would translate into the lowest paid civil servant receiving at least K20 600 (about $123) per month.