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By Samuel Kalimira & Isaac Salima:

Joseph Mwanamvekha

Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (Admarc) staff at head office in Blantyre and Mzuzu branch Tuesday started a sit-in, to press management to address their concerns.

The workers said they were unhappy with non-remittance of their pension funds to Old Mutual Malawi and want salary increment in line with Admarc restructuring process recommendations which were approved sometime back.

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Admarc Workers Union National Chairperson, John Hassan, said they would not return to work until their grievances are addressed.

“Our pension contributions have not been remitted to Old Mutual since 2015. From 2017, we have been engaging management on the issue, to no avail. In December, we were told that the government authorised management to borrow money from FDH Bank for the pension fund but we have not heard anything from them and that is why we cannot trust them any longer; hence, resorting to the sit-in,” Hassan said.

The members of staff also want the ministry to release the 2018 Functional Review Report which recommended restructuring of Admarc by putting in place proper conditions of work.

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In Mzuzu, rains did not stop the workers from peacefully protesting within Admarc premises; they danced and chanted songs accusing the government of torturing them. Other workers brought music playing equipment to entertain colleagues.

The gates to the regional offices were closed and armed guards manned the gates, stopping workers from going through.

Northern Region Workers Union Chairperson, Brian Chawinga, said they would continue with the sit-in until the government satisfies their demands.

“Admarc is not remitting our pension benefits to Old Mutual. This means we cannot get our money with interest if some of us retire. To make matters worse, some people retired but are failing to go and rest because there is no money at Old Mutual.

“We approached them but we got the response that they will sort the issues out after May 21 elections. Are we politicians? Or is Admarc a political entity?” Chabinga queried?

Admarc Chief Executive Officer Margaret Mauwa and spokesperson Agness Ndovi could not be reached.

Minister of Agriculture, Joseph Mwanamveka, said the issue has been resolved.

“I know about the sit-in but I can assure you that the matter has been resolved and we hope that they will be in office probably tomorrow. We have sorted out their demands and I am happy with that,” Mwanamveka said.

Some workers fear that the strike can disrupt Admarc’s exercise of buying farm produce.

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