A bout 150 junior workers at Mchenga Coal Mine in Rumphi District have downed their tools in a bid to persuade management to improve working conditions and effect a salary hike.
In an interview on Saturday, the workers’ representative Martin Mlenga said the sit-in began last Monday to force management to raise their wages from K53 000 per month to at least K100 000.
He also said they wanted management to provide them personal protective equipment.
Said Mlenga: “We want a salary increment to at least K100 000 per month so that we should be able to buy food for our families and pay school fees for our children.
Workers captured in one of the meetings
“Again, we want management to revisit our pension fund as the deducted money is allegedly not being remitted since 2017.”
In a separate interview, Mchenga Coal Mine human resources officer Wongani Simwaka confirmed the sit-in.
“However, I am not in the right position to discuss workers’ salaries in the press. Mchenga Coal Mine is committed to ensuring that it creates a good working environment.
“Besides, the company promotes contact and dialogue. The room is wide open for negotiations in case of grievances.”
Rumphi district assistant labour officer Anthony Kalabho said his office has been to the company twice to mediate between the disgruntled workers and management.
“We were there on Tuesday and Thursday last week to bring the two sides to a roundtable. However, the workers stood their ground not to go back to work unless Mr. Rafik Gaffar, who is the managing director, availed himself for the meeting.
“However, Gaffar on the other hand, is also refusing to meet the workers, saying the sit-in is illegal.”