Minimum wage under scrutiny
Stakeholders in the labour industry started meeting in Lilongwe Thursday for the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council (Tlac) meeting at which minimum wage negotiations are expected to take centre stage.
While the workers are proposing a 100 percent jump in the minimum wage from K50,000 to K100,000, the employers are willing to go to 35 percent.
The Tlac meeting has attracted representatives from the Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Finance, the Department of Human Resource Management and Development, the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU), the Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam), and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
This is the first time in two-and-a-half years that the stakeholders are meeting for the Tlac meeting.
MCTU president Charles Kumchenga said the issue of National Minimum Wage versus the Sectoral minimum wage, must come as a priority as it comes against the background that some employers deliberately pay their workers at the dot of the minimum wage even if the employer has the capacity to pay above the minimum wage.
“We must also look at the issue of minimum wage against the cost of living. We need to have honest conversations on this matter.
“Can we all comfortably confirm that the current minimum wage of K50,000 is enough to allow a worker or any other person to live a standard or decent life?” Kumachenga queried.
He added that the issue of short contracts not only in the tea and coffee sector, but in all other sectors, is a headache for MCTU, mainly because it threatens decent work, for instance, excluding workers under short contracts or seasonal from benefiting from social protection.
Kumchenga further said the position of MCTU is that effective labour inspections are key towards achieving decent work for all workers.
“We believe that the house will also discuss and address the issue of multiple registrations of trade unions as this continues to affect the collective bargaining power for unions,” Kumchenga said.
Ecam president Annie Chavula said while the workers are bringing to the table the issue of minimum wage, the employers have their concerns which include delays in processing of Temporary Employment Permits for skills that are not available on the market.
Chavula added that employers would like to have a clear oversight of the Tevet Levy in which employers contribute one percent of their total wage bill to the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training Authority (Teveta).
Labour Minister Agnes NyaLonje underscored the importance of constant engagements among players in the labour sector.
According to NyaLonje, government is committed to ensuring that the Tlac meetings are held on time so as to ensure harmony in the workplace.
She also emphasised the need for Malawians to up their productive capacities whether in paid employment or other tasks they engage in.