Malawiâ€™s Minister of Labour Eunice Makangala on Monday asked employees of Blantyre Water Board (BWB) to accept a 10 percent salary increment despite the rising cost of living in the country following the 49 percent devaluation of the kwacha in May.
In April this year, BWB management and representatives of the employees agreed on a 40 percent salary adjustment, but government declined to approve the increase.
The development irked the employees who were set to start a strike that would cut off thousands of customers in Blantyre City and surrounding areas. The indefinite strike was set to take off this Wednesday.
Monday, Makangala visited BWB offices where she engaged the union and management in separate meetings that lasted for hours.
“We agreed that the employees should accept the 10 percent salary increase and we will take up the matter further,” said Makangala who disclosed that the 10 percent was arrived at because when the administration of President Joyce Banda came to office on April 7 2012, the coffers were dry.
BWB chief executive Andrew Thawe said the employees pressed management for a 10 percent salary increment following the devaluation and that another 40 percent should be effected after the passing of the budget.
He, however, explained that government only approved a 10 percent increment effective July.
President of BWB trade union James Monjeza could not say whether the union is satisfied with the 10 percent increment. He refused to comment on the impending strike, saying he has to brief members on the development.
Meanwhile, Thawe confirmed that BWB is contemplating increasing water tariffs to keep BWB in business and to serve customers better.