Government is considering introducing sectoral minimum wage, Minister of Labour, Youth, Sports and Manpower Development Francis Katsaila has said.
Speaking during the launch of the Promoting Decent Work in Tea Plantations Project in Thyolo on Wednesday, Kasaila said minimum wages should reflect the profitability of various sectors of the economy.
“We will introduce minimum wages according to sectors. We will look at how much a sector makes and determine the minimum wage,” said Katsaila.
The minister said blackouts should not be used as a scapegoat for not giving workers decent working conditions.
“Blackouts have just come. In the past two or three years, were you being paid better in the other years?” he asked the audience which comprised tea plantation workers.
Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) secretary general Dennis Kalekeni commended the tea estates for paying their workers more than the government recommended K962 per day minimum wage.
He, however, asked the estate owners to involve workers in any bargaining activity. He said the tripartite set-up that involves officials from Ministry of Labour, employers and employees is working at national level and it should trickle down to all levels.
“Any other set-up to discuss conditions in tea estates that discriminates workers is a mockery. In labour unions we have a motto: nothing for us without us,” said Kalekeni.
He asked government to solve the power challenges because blackouts are affecting productivity and profitability of companies. This, he said, has an impact on the decent working conditions.
Kasaila assured the workers that the government is working on the electricity shortages.
“As we speak, government is rehabilitating Tedzani III, there is an investor developing a 70 megawatt solar plant in Salima, government has engaged Zambia for a power interconnector from Chipata [Zambia] and Mchinji, government is also working on an interconnector from Tanzania at Karonga, another interconnector from Cabora Bassa Dam in Mozambique and a 300 megawatt Kammwamba Coal Power project, “ he said.
The Promoting Decent Work Project, which is being funded by the Flanders Government and being championed by International Labour Organisation, seeks to improve working conditions of tea plantation workers.