Gerald Kampanikiza, News Reporter
LILONGWE – Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) has called upon government and all employers to increase salaries and wages for all employees for them to cope with the current cost of living.
Through a statement, signed by President Charles Kumchenga and Secretary General Madalitso Njolomole titled “the implications of the revised fuel prices on the cost of living and decent work promotion” the MCTU said it is deeply concerned with the recent trend in the economy in particular the revised fuel prices and the 25 percent devaluation of Kwacha.
“MCTU notes that these economic trends have various devastating impact on workers welfare, employment creation, decent work promotion, the cost of living for all Malawians in general,” read the statement.
It further revealed that MCTU is very worried about the revised fuel prices at a time when wages and salaries for majority of Malawians are still low and that some have not been revised for so long despite the tough economic situation.
MCTU describes the move by government as a punishment to the most vulnerable groups including informal workers.
It said this will lead citizens to absolute poverty with no option for survival as social protection schemes are weak, selective and cover a very small percentage of the most vulnerable population and mostly those found in the rural areas.
MCTU however said it appreciates that the Malawi Energy Regulatory Authority (MERA) has revised prices of petrol, diesel and paraffin in reaction to the recent trends in the world petroleum products prices and changes in other macroeconomic fundamentals in the local market.
“MCTU is also aware that the general rise in fuel prices across the globe has led to the general rise in the cost of living worldwide as evidenced by worldwide protests against the high costs of living and we recognise that the Malawi economy is part of the global economy hence not immune to global economic factors and changes,” reads the statement.
Further, MCTU said despite acknowledging a general global shift in prices, it calls upon government to immediately intervene by cushioning workers and all Malawians against the economic hardship that has been influenced by the general rise in fuel prices and the devaluation of the Kwacha.
The trade union then proposed government to consider subsidizing and removing tax on petrol, diesel and paraffin.
MCTU also called upon government to immediately call fires Tripartite Labour Advisory Committee (TLAC) meeting to discuss the proposed interventions that will cushion workers against the current economic hardship.
“MCTU is also proposing for a 100% minimum wage increase with immediate effect as the constant rise in fuel prices has a negative impact on workers welfare, for instance, in 2022 alone, price for Petro has been continuously revised,” they said.
It further called upon government and all employers to prioritize negotiations and social dialogue at all time while calling upon all shop owners and sellers of various goods and services to refrain from deliberately removing goods from displays or shelves to depict that goods are in short supply or scarce on the market with the intention of increasing demand and ultimately sell goods at high prices in order to make exorbitant profits.