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Raise minimum wage or pack and go, Chinese told in Malawi

Chinise run shop in LilongweBLANTYRE--Malawi government has threatened to close down shops run by Chinese following reports the shop owners are underpaying local workers.

Wednesday through to Friday, Minister of Labour Eunice Makangala has been inspecting Chinese and Indian shops in Limbe and Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial city to appreciate challenges Malawians are facing at the hands of Chinese and Indians.

Makangala noted that most Chinese are not adhering to the minimum of K317 per day and workers are subjected to poor and harsh working conditions.

With a minimum wage of K317 per day, a worker is supposed to be getting K8000 or thereabout per month, but apparently most workers get less than K8000 per month.

“They should be giving the workers a minimum of K317 per day if they are not ready to follow that they should just leave the country otherwise we are not happy with their conduct of exploiting Malawians,” said the labor minister.

She however hailed Indians, mostly plying trade in Limbe, for being considerate and paying their workers ‘handsomely’.

“It is pleasing to note that some Indians are giving their workers K12,000 per month. We expect the Chinese to hike the salaries of the workers from K6000 to at least K8000 per month,” said Makangala.

The minister also disclosed that government is looking forward to raising the minimum wage K317 to K600 per day, observing that the cost of living has largely gone up following the 40 percent devaluation of the local currency in May this year.

She said government will engage and involve all trade unionists and stakeholders to review the minimum wage.

“We are aware that Malawians are severe hit by high cost of living. As such we want to review the minimum wage so that it should cushion the effects of the devaluation.

“We will commence consultative meetings with the stakeholders in next month (November), Malawians have had enough,” said Makangala.

Government gave all civil servants a 35 percent increment following the 40 percent devaluation, but civil servants contended that it was on the lower side. They initially demanded a 78 percent increment.

Recently workers of Blantyre Water Board, Lilongwe Water Board, People’s Trading Centre, G4S Security and Office of the Director of Public Procurement (ODPP), among others, went to strike demanding higher pay.

On Wednesday this week, Nico Life Insurance employees stopped working over low pay and on Friday they vowed to continue with the strike until they get a 39 percent increment.
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