Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development Goodall Gondwe has told striking staff at the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) to resume work or risk not getting their December 2014 salaries.
Gondwe said in an interview on Wednesday the decision has been made somewhere and he was only communicated to.
Said the minister in a telephone interview on Wednesday: “I have been told that they [ACB staff] are going back to work tomorrow [Thursday]. Therefore, those that will not report for duties will not get their [December] salaries because, I am told, the strike is illegal.”
But a labour law lecturer at the University of Malawi’s Chancellor College in Zomba has dismissed the threat, saying the law does not favour monetary punishment.
The lecturer, Mauya Msuku, said government’s warning is illegal.
He said: “Withholding of wages or salaries is monetary punishment, which is illegal. The law only permits to withhold wages when there are damages caused by employees or one has absented himself or herself from work without reasons.”
Msuku said employees who are conducting a strike, which has risen from a dispute and that all procedures are followed is not illegal, therefore, their wages cannot be withheld.
ACB staff are on strike demanding 70 percent salary hike after rejecting a 10 percent proposed increase.
This resulted into police sealing their offices on Tuesday, which were opened on Wednesday after President Peter Mutharika’s intervention.
Meanwhile, ACB staff are meeting on Thursday to discuss the next course of action in light of government’s threats.