Malawi’s Civil Service Trade Union (CSTU) has called off its nationwide strike that paralysed public service delivery, including in hospitals, after government offered the demanded pay hike.
Reading a communiqué during a joint news conference with the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) in the capital, Lilongwe, CSTU president Elia Kamphinda Banda said government has offered to review civil servants’ salary structure.
The lowest paid civil servants will get a 61 percent increase whereas the highest paid ones will have a five percent increment effective January 1 2013.
He said the increments have been spread across the grades and the percentage increases vary from one grade to another. For the lowest paid civil servants, the 61 percent increment means that their basic salaries have gone up from K18 000 (about $50) to about K29 000 (about $80).
Initially, CSTU, whose strike started on February 11 as a two-day stay away and gained momentum with more public schools and hospitals closing, airports shutting down, among others, demanded a 67 percent increment.
Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga on Monday said government could ill afford the demanded salary increase for civil servants as meeting their current demands would see the wage bill jump by 200 percent from the current K92 billion (about $269.4 million) to K276 billion (about $766.7 million).
However, during a news conference on Thursday, Kamphinda Banda, there was “a figure of K5.7 billion (about $16.2m) which we have been given to play around with between January and June . That is the money we have used to spread the increments.”
He said the new salaries will be implemented in March whereas arrears for January and February will be paid in July 2013. However, he said, negotiations for another salary review effective July 2013 are scheduled to start from March 19 2013.
Said Kamphinda Banda: “The process was tiresome, but we tried our best. Nobody can be satisfied with money, but we have some solace [from the offer].”
Kamphinda Banda was accompanied by Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) general secretary Dennis Kalekeni whereas the GNT comprised Ben Botolo, who was introduced as its chairperson, and Principal Secretary for the Department of Human Resource Management, Sam Madula.
Botolo explained that government came up with the K5.7 billion through cuts in some of the votes within the 2012/13 budget.
Earlier, the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU).