Experts caution unrealistic salary demands

Post was last updated: December 11, 2014

In the wake of increased industrial action by workers in various public service institutions to force government to revise their wages, economic commentators are calling for the immediate suspension of the strikes saying government would not sustain such an inflated wage bill.

They argue that government, which is already struggling to implement a zero aid budget, does not have the money to meet the salary demands.

A number of public service staff, including the judiciary and the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) have vowed to continue absconding work until their salaries are revised.

Economic Empowerment Action Group (EEAG) president Lewis Chiwalo and Indigenous Business Association of Malawi (Ibam) president Mike Mlombwa in separate interviews said that the demands being made by the striking officers are not justifiable.

Chiwalo said that though there is a need for salary harmonisation, the demands being made are extraordinary.

“Looking at our economic situation, it is unjustifiable and unreasonable for people to be making such demands. The government cannot afford such expenditures at the moment. The striking officers should consider suspending their strikes until the economy recovers,” said Chiwalo.

He further said the judiciary is an arm of the government hence they need to understand the situation better.

“There is a need to compromise. The judiciary itself, its service delivery is not at all pleasing and for them to be making such demands, it is unrealistic. Judges are not supposed to go on strike. Once they do that it means they are denying other people rights,” he said.

He further said the strikes will further affect the economy as already business operators are failing to do their businesses waiting for court cases.

“The judiciary strike has affected everybody; some of the businesses are waiting for court decisions. All those things have a negative impact on the economy as a whole. There is congestion in prisons which will lead to spread of diseases,” he said.

On the other hand Mike Mlombwa said Malawians are supposed to be patriotic and not make unnecessary demands. He said the government at the moment cannot afford to increase the salaries as they have a lot to deal with, in the absence of donor support.

“Let us be reasonable when making our demands. Where do you expect the government to get the money from? Once the wage bill is increased, it means other sectors will be affected like hospitals and development projects and possibly the government can only manage to fulfil the salary increase for just a few months and fail to sustain it. What will happen then?” questioned Mlombwa.

Mlombwa further said the effects of the strikes are so numerous and will only cripple further our economy.

“Whatever happens will not only affect the government. If the government sinks, we all sink together nobody will escape. Look at what happened a few years ago when the Chancellor College went on strike. A number of girls were impregnated while others contracted different diseases. These are some of the effects,” Mlombwa said.

He also called upon religious leaders and civil society organisations to organise national prayers for the country, so that our economy is back on track.

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