Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Malawi Civil Servants Hold Mass Protest Over Low Salaries

Malawi civil servants conduct peaceful demonstrations

Thursday, 14 February 2013 00:00

LILONGWE. - There was drama for the whole day on Tuesday at Malawi Capitol Hill in the capital Lilongwe where hundreds of civil servants downed tools and marched from one government building to another in
protest against low salaries.

Malawi Civil Servants Trade Union (MSCTU) had ordered all civil servants in the country to stay away from their offices from February 11, to force government to increase their salaries.

However, the ‘stay away did not take effect on Monday following a statement that was released by the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) (that President Joyce Banda put in place) calling off the ‘stay away’ saying the two sides had met and resolved the matter.

The statement read: “The Government of the Republic of Malawi is pleased to announce that during their meeting on Monday, February 11, the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) and the Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) resolved to continue the dialogue on the demands presented by the civil servants pertaining to their conditions of service and salary levels.

“With this understanding, and in order to provide a conducive atmosphere for dialogue, the two sides have agreed that the ‘stay away’ which was to commence today, Monday 11 February 2013 is cancelled.”
But MCSTU President Elia Kamphinda Banda on Tuesday told local journalists at the Capitol Hill where hundreds of civil servants gathered that the union did not hold any talks with the GNT to cancel the ‘stay away’.

The MCSTU President claimed that the Chairperson of the GNT had “lied to the nation” on the matter because the said negotiations did not take place.

“We are gathering here to let the public know that what the GNT statement said on Monday was (an) outright lie,” said Kamphinda Banda. “We only planned to stay away from our offices until government attended to our concerns but because of the statement, we are going to conduct a peaceful demonstration around the government offices.”

The civil servants then marched from one government ministry building to another, carrying tree branches and singing mournful songs. They heaped the tree branches at the entrance of every government building in the Capitol Hill including Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC), Office of the Vice President, Finance Ministry and Agriculture Ministry.

The MSCTU President said from yesterday onwards the civil servants would keep gathering at one place within the Capitol Hill, dressed in black and singing mournful songs until government looks into their plight.

Kamphinda also threatened that should government remain silent until Friday, the civil servants would paralyse other vital sectors of the country. - Xinhua

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