LILONGWE--Dialogue is key to resolving problems employees may have with their employers, says Pres Joyce Banda in reaction to an on-going strike at Mzuzu University over pay.
“The civil servants demanded almost 67 percent from government but we could only afford 21 percent after dialogue. We came to an understanding and agreement. Even if we promised what everybody wants, the reality is that there’s no money,” said Banda. “Only dialogue and understanding will move us forward.”
This was Pres Banda's first reaction to strikes by staff at Mzuzu University and other publicly-funded colleges.
“I am the first one to admit that things are not okay; the cost of living is very high and I will not pretend otherwise,” she said.
The president said she’d meet with Education Minister Eunice Kazembe to discuss the issue.
Soon after assuming power in April following the sudden death of Pres Bingu wa Mutharika, Pres Banda did what her predecessor had refused to do – he’d argued devaluation would hurt the poor – and allowed the local currency to lose its value by 49 percent at the behest of global lender International Monetary Fund.
The move led to a sharp rise in commodity prices. According to the Center for Social Concern, a family of six needs K75, 000 to get basic needs including food. However the minimum wage in impoverished Malawi is a paltry K4, 500.
“We should come to understanding together that we need to move out of this mess by going through this mess,” said Banda.
©2012 The Maravi Post. Reproduction authorised, with usual acknowledgment.