The Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) president, Eliah Kamphinda Banda, said on Tuesday the new administration would be given a week after the mourning period since the issue of salary increase is not personalised.
Kamphinda Banda said their initial seven days ultimatum was disturbed by the death of president Bingu wa Mutharika and that, traditionally, it is proper to allow for a dignified mourning of the fallen leader.
â€œOur demands were presented to government, not to an individual,â€ said Kamphinda Banda. â€œOur demands still stand. What is going to happen is that we will mourn the former president [first].â€
The civil servants are demanding the salary adjustment despite an assurance from Chief Secretary to Government Bright Msaka that government instituted a committee to look into the salaries of all its 100 000-plus civil servants and recommend an appropriate increase.
Msaka said once the committee, which he said had already started work, has made recommendations, new salaries would be implemented in July at the start of the new financial year.
But Kamphinda Banda claimed government had called for a meeting on Friday, just a day after the expiry of the seven days, but the meeting was postponed indefinitely following Mutharikaâ€™s death.
Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) president Chauluka Muwake said the death is not expected to affect the negotiations because government will still be there.
Said Muwake: â€œThe JB [Joyce Banda] administration is not new. She is just picking up from where things were. She is only going to give direction the way she wants things to move from now on.â€
Last week, Government Negotiating Team chairperson Willie Samute declined to comment on the issue, saying discussions with civil servants representatives were done internally.
However, Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) secretary general Robert Mkwezalamba on Sunday said the workers should give government some time to avoid giving advantage to some people with ill intentions to sabotage the new administration.
â€œWe appeal to workers to take their time in dealing with government now. It is obvious others out of frustrations may offer you a 1 000 percent pay rise so that the new government later is seen to have failed.
â€œWhat is critical is for all workers to be strategic in their approach to issues, get organised into unions so that we are constructive when we face government, unlike making wild proposals which will only breed conflicts,â€ he said.