Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) says it is pushing for a 75 percent hike in minimum wage to cushion workers from the rising cost of living.
If the proposal succeeds, it means workers will be earning K87 000 per month from the current K50 000 per month.
In an interview on Tuesday, MCTU secretary general Madalitso Njolomole said they are yet to negotiate with the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council on the same.
He said: “We are yet to negotiate at the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council level. However, we are looking for at least 75 percent increment.”
He said while a consideration for sectoral minimum wage is a welcome development, the minimum wage should still be there for some sectors.
Effective January 2021, the Mnistry of Finance adjusted the minimum monthly wage from K35 000 to K50 000 to address prevalent poor wages for majority of workers in the country.
When the minimum wage was raised last year, the cost of living in urban areas was at about K198 000 per month for an average family of six.
Currently, a household of six people is spending K346 530, according to figures compiled by the Centre for Social Concern.
Meanwhile, headline inflation, the rate at which prices of commodities change at a given period in an economy, has also been on the rise in recent months, and is now at 14.1 percent as at March, according to the National Statistical Office.
In an interview on Monday, Employers Consultative Association of Malawi executive director George Khaki said the rising cost of living is affecting employees and eroding their purchasing power.
He said employers are not spared from the price increases as rising costs of production are eating into their profits.
Said Khaki: “Any salary increases should be based on the principles of affordability to pay the wage increases and improved productivity that sustains profitability of the enterprises. Having a prescriptive minimum wage for all industries and sectors would be detrimental and this would not support job creation efforts.
“Rather, in the meanwhile, we encourage employers and workers to go into genuine social dialogue at enterprise level to identify challenges and agree on how best these challenges can be tackled to ensure that the welfare of employees is well taken care of while ensuring sustainability of companies at the same time.”
He said there is need to look at the pressure to raise wages with sober minds as it can exert inflationary pressure in an economy which is already suffering from high inflation.
Ministry of Labour spokesperson Christina Mkutumula could not comment on the issue raised by MCTU, saying she will have to check if the workers’ body has written the ministry.