Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) protested government’s proposal to raise the minimum daily wage from K551 to K687.70 per day effective October 1 2015, describing the hike as “too little” in the prevailing economic circumstances.
In an interview in Lilongwe on Wednesday, MCTU secretary general Pontius Kalichero said the minimum wage should have been looked at from a sector perspective because the across-the-board raise does not make sense.
He said: “During our discussions, we were advocating for a higher figures, but we did not succeed. Even though we agreed with the figures settled for that time, it is not making sense now because commodities are rising almost every day.
“We are asking government that we should sit down to map the way forward because Malawians are feeling the pinch since commodities are rising every day. We were supposed to look at the wages sector by sector to see how well employees can be rewarded.”
But Patrick Kabambe, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Youth and Manpower Development, said the trade union was not being honest.
He said: “During our discussions, we did not just impose the figures on the two parties we were discussing with. We reached a consensus with MCTU and Employers Consultative Association of Malawi [Ecam] before the minister approved the new figures. So, they [MCTU] should not complain now and be reasonable.”
Kabambe said in the review they looked at several factors to ensure that companies meet their operational costs and not fire people due to the minimum wage hike.
But Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) executive director John Kapito said the minimum wages were aimed at demotivating other than motivating employees.
He said: “In this day and age, how can you be paying someone a dollar a day? This is another form of thangata [term for forced labour in colonial era] because employees do not show their true potential as they have to run around to look for money to supplement income and in the end they don’t produce quality work.”