ACB engages OPC on staff strike threat

ACB engages OPC on staff strike threat

The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) has engaged the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) over its workers’ pay rise demands and threats to down tools if their salaries are not revised.

ACB principal public relations officer Egrita Ndala said this in an interview yesterday in response to The Nation’s questionnaire on the workers’ intention to down tools.

The graft-busting agency’s employees last month filed a letter containing notices of a labour dispute and intention to stage a strike.  It was addressed to Ministry of Labour Principal Secretary and copied to the ACB director general Martha Chizuma.

In the letter dated July 10 2023, the ACB employees said they want a pay rise to match with the rising cost of living amid an economic turmoil facing the nation.

But yesterday, Ndala said: “The bureau is aware of the tough economic conditions which Malawians, including bureau officers are facing. The bureau’s management is engaging with the government on the matter. The process is ongoing.”

In the letter, the staff accuse Chizuma of failing to hike their salaries as per ACB Staff Terms and Conditions of Service.

The terms and conditions, they argue, provide for factors to be taken into consideration when reviewing salaries which include “comparability with similar institutions” and “an increase in the cost of living”.

The staff contend that the cost of living has gone up by 46 percent and the director general failed to effect an adjustment in their pay.

The workers declare that they will proceed to stage the strike within the 21 days.

In response to the accusations, Ndala said that the bureau’s management is not responsible for approving the workers’ salaries.

She said: “Salaries for the bureau are not approved by the management of the bureau. The government approves conditions of service including salary increments for bureau officers.

“This is why the bureau management is engaging the government on the same.”

Ndala cited Article 9 of the Corrupt Practices Act which reads in part: “In addition to the director and deputy director there shall be appointed in the public service, on terms and conditions approved by the President, investigating officers and such other officers of the bureau…”

In his take, social and political analyst Humphrey Mvula said the 46 percent salary increase demands by ACB workers are unrealistic considering the harsh economic times facing the country.

He, however, said that there was need for the ACB, OPC and Ministry of Labour to find a common ground in the percentage of the salary increment.

Meanwhile, the OPC had not yet responded to our questionnaire as we went for press while the Principal Secretary for Labour Wezi Kayira said he has not received the ACB workers letter.

Section 44 of the Labour Relations Act gives demands that the Principal Secretary for Labour assesses the dispute and try to conciliate the antagonistic.

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