Employees of World Vision Malawi (WVM), a Christian charity and development agency, on Tuesday defied their management’s call to return to work pending address of their demands for salary increment and introduction of fixed term contracts.
Management of WVM, a member of World Vision International (WVI), asked striking staff to resume work as they discuss with the Staff Consultative Committee (SCC).
Hundreds of WVM staff from across the country yesterday gathered at the head office in Lilongwe where they presented a petition in which they are demanding an 80 percent salary increment across the board and rolling out of fixed term contracts.
The staff refused to budge even after a representative of the staff told management that the strike was an embarrassment to them as well but they had no choice.
The staff gathered as early as 8am singing gospel songs and the Malawi National Anthem while carrying placards some of which read: ‘Is Christianity and stewardship a tool for oppression?’ and ‘To hell with your 5-40 percent increment. We want 80 per cent across’.
When the senior management team led by the new national director Paulaw Kitheka finally arrived about two hours later, the staff sat on the ground ignoring chairs which management had provided for the presentation of the petition.
In the petition, the staff said they had gathered at the head office and would not leave the premises until they got answers to the grievances.
“Discussions with management have not yielded any results, leadership is a dictatorship, they intimidate and the staff body is demanding a replacement of the current leadership,” a representative of the staff told management.
However, Kitheka appealed to the staff to give management time to discuss their grievances and respond by Thursday and Friday.
He said a regional director from the Southern Africa Regional Office was on his way to WVM and would need to be briefed on the situation before management arrived at a final decision.
But his appeals, which were spiced by passages from the Bible fell on deaf ears as staff demanded to be present at the head office while discussions were taking place.
The two teams, senior management and the SCC awaited the arrival of the regional boss at 2pm on Tuesday to find a way forward on the strike which has paralysed development work focusing on nutrition, safe water and sanitation practices, education, health care, child immunisation, among others.