Kamuzu International and Chileka airports are expected to be shut down today as civil aviation staff in Malawi join the civil servants’ strike that has so far seen public health centres closed and government headquarters in the capital, Lilongwe on lock down.
Over 100 000 public workers are demanding a 67-percent wage increase to match the high cost of living triggered by the 49 percent devaluation of the kwacha and its subsequent floatation against major currencies as President Joyce Banda attempts to right a sputtering economy.
“We have written the department of civil aviation, the airport commandant informing them that we are joining the strike and are shutting down the airport on Wednesday,” Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) Union vice-chairperson Joel Mkandawire said in an interview.
He said the Civil Service Trade Union (CSTU) and workplace committees in the airports met on Monday and resolved that the memorandum of understanding between CSTU and CSTU-DCA workplace committees is still binding.
“The CSTU workplace committees are, therefore, advising all DCA and members of staff working in airports to put their tools down and get inconstant touch with their respective CSTU workplace committee for direction,” read a statement released later yesterday.
They also agreed to jointly conduct the planned march scheduled for Wednesday, 20th February, 2013 to deliver a petition to the Office of the President and Cabinet.
Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe, the country’s main airport handling all international flights in and out of Malawi, will be the most affected if the disgruntled workers go ahead and shut down.
Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines are the frequent airlines that fly into Lilongwe every week.
Teachers and health workers across the country joined the strike on Monday this week.
The strike has also paralysed the main hospitals which are already facing severe shortages of health workers and drugs.
Malawi’s Minister of Finance Ken Lipenga said in an interview that government cannot afford to increase the wage bill because it has no resources.