There are mixed reactions to a Centre for Social Concern (CfSC) proposal for government to move from the generic minimum wage to a sectoral approach to accord workers basic life.
CfSC executive director Father James Ngahy said on Friday during a Women at Workplace Media Workshop in Lilongwe that a survey conducted by the organisation showed that the sectoral approach on minimum wage would ensure compliance and corresponding shares to workers from what a company makes.
Currently, government follows a generic minimum wage of K35 000 per month contrary to CfSC findings indicating that minimum monthly consumption value for a five-member urban family is K100 000 while in an estate, a five-member family needs K96 000 per month.
He said: “What is happening is that even sectors that are more lucrative are sticking to this minimum wage yet they can afford even over K100 000 as a minimum wage.
“Given these estimates, what would you expect of a family whose breadwinner gets K35 000 per month and yet that figure has to be broken into different expenses?”
Ministry of Labour, Skills and Innovations labour officer responsible for employment and child labour Chisomo Kaugwire said the ministry has been discussing the matter but has not yet come to a conclusion.
She concurred with CfSC views that the generic approach on the matter applies to everyone despite huge companies making a lot of profits while its workers subtract from their salaries to pay domestic workers.
“If you look at the two scenarios, you will see that the current system fvours the big companies and organisations while smaller ones suffer,” she said.
But Economics Association of Malawi president Lauryn Nyasulu said while the proposal is good, it would be difficult to implement in Malawi.
“That idea is not just because some companies make more money but also considering that some sectors are more demanding on expertise than others, the kind of expertise should correspond to the minimum return,” she said.
Nyasulu also observed that enforcement would not be easy, looking at how difficult it has been to monitor and enforce the generic system.
But Chiunguze said the ministry conducts inspections on the compliance to the minimum wage but inadequacy of resources makes it difficult to reach all places required.