Junior members of staff at the National Assembly have threatened to go on strike on Monday if their seniors will not reverse “unfair plans to get a 45 percent salary increase against a 10 percent hike for the juniors”.
Inside sources at Parliament told Weekend Nation in Lilongwe on Thursday that the junior staff members were shocked to learn that their management had proposed the lopsided salary proposals to the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) at a time uniform salary increments were expected.
The junior workers have given the management up to today to resolve their grievances before they down tools next week,
Said the source: “We are likely to strike from Monday because we have discovered discriminatory salary increments. All along, we were told we will have equal percentages, but we have realised that the top management has done things to its advantage.
“So, people are angry. And next week, if we are not going to be given a concrete answer, a strike will follow.”
A leaked memo of minutes from a meeting the union held on July 13 at Parliament, cited reports that the executive management had presented proposals on salary increment to the PSC.
The memo notes that the junior workers’ union executive did not have any information on what the salary increase proposals to the PSC were and what the reasoning was for the proposals.
According to the memo, the management apparently unilaterally decided to have different proposals to the salary increments, rather than what the staff body had been promised.
The junior staff say they were shocked to discover what had been proposed behind their back after they applied pressure that forced top management to show them copies of the documents that had been given to the PSC.
Reads the memo in part: “The union membership was shocked to realise that management was not at all thinking about salary increments for staff, but was concerned with getting as much increment as possible for management to be paid as Judges in the Judiciary following a benchmarking policy.”
The members expressed concern that the benchmarking only focused on salaries without considering other benefits in the benchmarked institutions against the benefits that management and staff at Parliament were getting.
The junior workers lamented that in the final salary increase proposals, management members bent on virtually doubling their salaries while offering them a hike of only an average of 10 percent.
“It was apparent that members were agitated that with the ever-increasing cost of living, members of management had persuaded PSC into more than doubling the salaries of members of management, ignoring the lowly-paid members of staff that continued to struggle to make ends meet while members of management had, all other things constant, well off given the high salaries, excellent entitlements and benefits.” reads the memo.
When contacted, president for the Parliamentary Trade Union Fredrick Kamwani refused to comment on whether they will strike from Monday, saying they will only do that if they fail to agree with PSC.
He, however, agreed that there are disagreements in the salary increment proposals which the majority of the staff are not happy with.
“I believe in dialogue first, we know that the issue concerns top management and we cannot discuss with them and expect a positive answer. So, we are taking the issue to PSC on the way forward. For the time being, that is all I can say to you,” he said.
When contacted, Clerk of Parliament Fiona Kalemba asked for a questionnaire. The questionnaire had not been responded to as we went to press.
Parliamentary Assistant Clerk responsible for Public Relations, Leonard Mengezi said, in an interview, that there was nothing management could do with the junior staff’s plea, especially since the union has escalated the issue with PSC.
“There is nothing for us to say, they have already taken the issue to the Speaker. We cannot comment until the matter is resolved,” he added.
When contacted, Speaker for the National Assembly Richard Msowoya said: “I have received the issue and I have told the union to come up with a list of what they want. I am hopeful the issues will be resolved,” he said.
Msowoya said the proposal on increments, which management made to PSC, was already approved.