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Union hits at Peter Mutharika’s ‘aides’

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The Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) has accused people who surround President Peter Mutharika of wrongly advising him when it comes to different issues surrounding working conditions of its members.

MCTU, which has more than 200,000 members, has said every time Mutharika directs that relevant government authorities should discuss with the union different issues including salaries and wages, some authorities present a picture to the President as if all is well.

The union is holding its fourth congress in Lilongwe from yesterday to today where new leadership is also expected to be ushered in.

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Outgoing MCTU President, Chauluka Muwake, said in an interview after Minister of Labour, Henry Mussa, had officially opened the congress that there are selfish authorities that do not care about the suffering of their employees as long as the authorities cart home fat cheques.

“People are suffering because salaries are too low. The minimum wage is K687 and today if you look in the papers, you find that a dollar is K720 or K730 and according to the United Nations, abject poverty is where one earns less than a dollar a day.

“There are other managers down there; there are other advisors who surround the President who would always like to cheat the President that all is well. That is the biggest problem. However, as unionists, we should not falter but continue fighting until things get better,” Muwake said.

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He also argued that Mutharika’s appointment of his deputy, Saulos Chilima, as head of the Reforms Commission was welcomed by unionists “and the Vice-President has lived to our expectations because he always tells us the truth about how our concerns are being addressed”.

In his remarks, Mussa said the outgoing National Executive Committee has faithfully served the union over the past four years and that its relationship with government has been cordial.

While Muwake maintained that the minimum wage remains ridiculous, Mussa said his ministry engaged with MCTU twice in minimum wage negotiations and that on both occasions the two reached consensus “where the level of cooperation was unprecedented”.

Mussa added that MCTU and the Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) are in a sound working relationship when it comes to the Tripartite Labour Advisory Council business.

“They have agreed to be presenting a common position to government. This development has made our engagement more productive and responsible.

“This approach is in line with the new thinking sweeping the globe which is a departure from the old fashioned confrontational approach of managing industrial relations to a cooperative approach which is being encouraged…,” Mussa said.

The MCTU congress is being held under the theme “The Worker’s Productivity in Achieving Decent Work and Equality” and has drawn participants from different affiliates of the union.

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