Disgruntled Escom employees have threatened to withdraw their labour from Tuesday, a move that might plunge Malawi into a blackout if government fails to address the employees 30 percent salary hike demand.
The Escom staff union on August 23 gave notice to government of its intention to go on an industrial strike after invoking necessary procedures.
And Thursday, the union informed the public about the impending withdrawal of labour at the expiry of a notice period (which is Tuesday, September 4). The notice was served onto their employer and government following reported failure by the Ministry of Labour to reconcile the two parties.
â€œAll members of staff have unanimously agreed to withdraw our labour until the 30 percent cost of living adjustment that was approved by our executive board of directors in the 2012/13 fiscal budget is duly implemented in full effective 1st July,â€ reads the statement.
But principal secretary for the Ministry of Labour Wezi Kayira said government is meeting the employeesâ€™ representatives either Friday or Monday to iron out the differences.
On the strikes that have rocked most parastatals, including the University of Malawi, the Lilongwe Water Board (LLWB) and an impending one at Blantyre Water Board (BWB), Kayira said: â€œThe government is looking at issues of salaries in statutory corporations and very soon will come up with a position.â€
Meanwhile, at exactly 4:51 pm on Thursday, the LLWB staff who had been on strike since Wednesday, picked up their tools and went back to work after assurance from government that their 30 percent salary increment had been approved.
Minister of Labour Eunice Makangala assured the employees that government had agreed to increase their salaries by an average of 25 percent, with the least paid staff members receiving a 33 percent pay hike.