Representatives of the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) on Monday met President Joyce Banda where, among several issues, the trade union body presented its concerns over the prevailing minimum wage of K317 (about 80 US cents) per day despite the ever-rising cost of living.
The meeting came almost a month after government announced that it would review the current minimum wage soon after a two-day strike organised by shop and domestic workers at Bwalo la Njobvu in Lilongwe’s Old Town.
During the Lilongwe strike, among several issues, the shop and domestic workers were demanding an increment of their minimum wage which was lower than K10 000 (about $25) per month and in the end, the two sides settled for K18 600 (about $46.50) per month for the lowest paid worker.
In an interview after meeting the President, MCTU secretary general Pontius Kalichero confirmed that the need to adjust the minimum wage was one of the issues discussed by the two parties, but could not immediately say how much the body was proposing.
He said the union’s proposal is to see the country moving from a holistic minimum wage to a sectoral one which would see each sector have its own minimum wage depending on what a particular sector can afford.
Kalichero said another burning issue raised during the meeting is the failure by government to meet its promise to contribute to the K15 million budget that went towards this year’s Labour Day Celebrations on May 1.
Kalichero also raised concerns that despite the provisions in the Constitution and Labour Relations Act about the right to join or form trade unions, some employers continue to be arrogant towards formation of trade unions at their workplace.
According to a statement released after the meeting, MCTU also asked the President to render financial support for the construction of the union’s own building and for the union to have monthly or quarterly subvention as seed money for self-reliance, among other things.
In her brief statement after the closed-door meeting, the President said her government will work to assist in increasing membership in the union by, among other areas, creating more jobs and also called on the union to utilise public media to sensitise workers and employers to the importance of the union.