Workers’ pay sometimes determines their productivity.
Always discuss salaries before work begins.
We have heard it before: the less police officers earn, the more prone they are to bribery.
This could be right though personal integrity counts, too.
Now, how government could adequately remunerate frustrated supervisors and officers deployed for the national registration exercise underway in some district?
Having experienced what it takes one to be happy, healthy and productive on similar ‘hard labour’, the salaries that Pricewaterhouse Coopers (Pwc) is offering registration supervisors and officers are ‘peanuts’.
They do not adequately compensate for the work and stress the exercise entails.
In 25 days, the registration supervisors and officers are expected to earn K150 000 and K120 000, respectively.
This pittance will be taxed and disbursed in two installments.
Nothing can be more insensitive to the skyrocketing cost of living.
A substantial fraction will cater for accommodation, meals and transport.
With no separate allowance, people will be forced to live and work on a shoe-string budget.
Even if they sleep in the bush or settle for substandard housing, they may end up working hungrily.
Who does not want a national ID anyway?
But processing them is not voluntary work.
Studies show sufficient wages reduce corruption.
Sickening rates of corruption in this Cashgae country testify to this.
Much has been said about massive donor support for the national registration project. We hear they are pumping up to 60 percent of the basket fund managed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), with government providing the remainder.
Has the National Registration Bureau (NRB) swindled the money meant for salaries or is the donor community just being plain hypocritical or indifferent to the workers’ right to decent pay?
Rather than keeping mum on the slavish conditions in which registration staff is working, concerned donors must speak out and take a stand for equal rights and justice.
Their silence makes them appear complicit to the ongoing slavery that our national registration really is.
It has become the habit of our leaders to benefit from such projects.
Whoever advised NRB to outsource the recruitment exercise did not base this on realistic estimates and prevailing conditions.
The tragedy of engaging agencies to offer temporary employment contracts is that they usually take the advantage of massive youth unemployment to enrich themselves and enslave the jobless.
The start of the registration initiative is messy.
Do not blame underpaid supervisors and officers who may end up compromising their work. They have no job satisfaction and drive.
I will not be surprised if they start taking kickbacks to sell national IDs to foreign nationals dying for our passports and citizenship.
The decision to pay half of the salary in arrears makes it more oppressive.
And the ‘slave drivers’ are forcing the disillusioned workers to open First Merchant Bank (FMB) accounts for this meagre pay
Is this fair trade?
Why have they not allowed banking inter-operability? Why not give the workers the right to use banks of their choice?
We learn that these are ‘fast accounts’ which take less than K200 000. Is the ‘arrears arrangement’ just a strategy to ensure no account hits the limit”?
As it happened during induction trainings in Lilongwe, officers are not getting their accommodation allowance the moment they report for duty. They have to open the imposed account first!
When the account is opened, only half of the stipend is disbursed.
It is upsetting that NRB officials have not dutifully explained why innocent Malawians are being subjected to these punitive measures.
Government may as well start putting in place measures and funds to deal with failures in the registration exercise as the dispirited workers are already sick and tired of being harsh working conditions.”
Crisis management will be more costly. n