Ahead of the implementation of the new minimum wage in January 2021, workers and employers differed over which sectors should be exempted from the proposed K50 000 per month.
While the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) wants domestic workers to be exempted, Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) seeks the exemption to extend to food and accommodation, transport and warehousing, agriculture, manufacturing and security services sectors.
Ecam executive director George Khaki said in a written response on Tuesday that they do not want a total exemption.
He said employers are looking at small and medium enterprises and other sectors that have been negatively affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our proposal was that the minimum wage should be revised to K38 000 in these sectors to cover for inflation,” he said.
At K38 000 per month, this is K12 000 shy of the proposed new minimum wage of K50 000 and K3 000 above the current minimum wage.
However, MCTU feels exempting the sectors would challenge the whole idea of raising the minimum wage.
But MCTU secretary general Denis Kalekeni said in an interview on Monday that the workers’ body wants domestic workers to be exempted so that they are maintained in their work places.
He said: “The three partners [MCTU, Ecam and Ministry of Labour] met and discussed the issue.
“In our discussion, it was agreed that indeed the minimum wage be increased to K50 000 by January 1 2021.”
But the meeting did not agree on the other sectors to be exempted and Kalekeni confirmed that the meeting ended without a resolution.
Ministry of Labour spokesperson Christina Mkutumula confirmed that discussions over the minimum wage were pended, but he referred the issues to Ministry of Finance, whose spokesperson Williams Banda referred the matter again to Ministry of Labour.
The development comes a fortnight after Tea Association of Malawi and the Plantations Agriculture Workers Union signed a new collective bargaining agreement that pushed the minimum wage in the tea industry to K45 304 from K44 408 per month.