Professional Drivers Union (PDU) has announced the resumption of a nationwide strike from March 21 following failure by the government to address their grievances.
This is despite that government officials have summoned the truck drivers to a meeting on Tuesday.
Briefing reporters in Lilongwe Sunday, PDU spokesperson Mphatso Moleni said the drivers felt cheated by the government, which he accused of delivering little on its promises.
“Out of the many issues we raised with the government, only that of Covid certificates was addressed fully by the authorities.
“Of course, they have invited us to a meeting on Tuesday [tomorrow] but we don’t see the meeting helping in any way to avert the strike. What government has been doing all along is to promise to look into our problems but nothing changes on the ground,” Moleni said.
Among the outstanding grievances, the drivers say they are still being charged a fee of K10,000 when they are renewing professional drivers’ permits.
“Drivers are still facing problems when they are renewing passports (i.e.) since the contract has been suspended, drivers are forced to pay K180,000 for a passport. We have also noted that the government has gazetted a passport of 36 pages instead of 48 pages as per agreement,” reads a list of their grievances.
They further claim that they have noted that some transporters, including those who are politically connected, are refusing to pay the minimum salary to truck drivers gazetted by the Malawi Government through the Minister of Labour.
“Some transporters are still employing foreign drivers. This practice denies local qualified Malawian drivers [the opportunity] to get employment.
“Again, the issue of giving transport contracts to foreign companies has played a very big role towards the high unemployment rate of truck drivers,” they say.
The drivers have also lamented the conduct of deducting money from their salaries for fuel losses that occur in transit.
PDU’s lawyer Sylvester Ayuba James said it appeared the government was not taking the welfare of truck drivers seriously.
Minister of Transport Jacob Hara was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.