Sanity returned to Limbe central business district (CBD) in Blantyre on Monday after shop owners agreed to raise wages for their staff who had earlier staged a sit-in that grounded business to a halt.
The wages have gone up by 25 percent for the lowest paid and 10 percent for the highest paid after they staged a strike demanding better pay from their employers.
The workers’ monthly housing allowance has also been raised from K4 000 ($8) to K6 000 ($13) whereas bereavement allowance, paid when an employee’s relation dies, has been increased from K20 000 ($43) to K30 000 ($65) with immediate effect.
Earlier, the shop workers had gone wild, and forced closure of shops to demand improved packages. The shops that were targeted are those owned by Malawians of Asian origin, Chinese, Nigerian, Tanzanian, Rwandans and Burundi nationals.
Initially, the workers demanded a 60 percent pay hike for those receiving K600 per day; 45 percent hike for those getting above K600 per day; K45 000 as bereavement allowance when an employee’s relation dies and a hike of the K4 000 housing allowance, according to Limbe Workers Representative Union president Joseph Jana. He said they are happy that most of their demands were addressed.
He said as part of an agreement between the workers and their employers, a wage increment is expected to be effected in May every year.
In an interview, Blantyre district labour officer Frank Adini said his office is happy that the two parties have reached a consensus and business will resume.
“Though the workers did not follow proper procedures and just went ahead to conduct demonstrations without notifying the Ministry of Labour, the good thing is they have reached an agreement with their employers,” said Adini.
Altaf Muhammad, a representative of the shop owners, said what transpired at the meeting is what the Blantyre district labour officer had told the media.
Limbe workers also staged a similar protest in June last year demanding K18 600 ($40) per month as effected by shop owners in Lilongwe in May 2013.