Healthcare workers want 900% allowances hike

Healthcare workers want 900% allowances hike

Healthcare workers are pushing for 900 percent hike in their locum allowances in the ongoing Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC)-led conciliation to settle the pay hike standoff with Ministry of Health. 

The proposed allowances are contained as part of resolutions which the National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives in Malawi (Nonm) and Physician Assistants Union of Malawi (Paum) jointly tabled at the conciliation.

Insiders said the proposal has become the bone of contention that has led the conciliation to miss the set deadline as government fears that a nod will balloon the wage bill, creating budget imbalances.

Dated January 19 2024, the proposal pegs the allowance for central hospital workers at K40 000 for day shifts and K60 000 for night shifts, which is a 900 percent increase.

Currently, the allowances are  K4 800 for day and K6 300 for night shifts.  The proposed hike represents 900 percent.

For district hospitals, whose locum is at K3 750 for day and K5 250 for night shifts, the proposed revision is K30 000 and K50 000 respectively. 

Some health care workers during a salary hike protest

Read the resolutions: “For a clinician to work for locum, he or she needs transport to and from work, food and other needs like airtime. With the current high cost of living, locum of K3 750/K4 800 is only spent on transport.

“This means that our clinicians/healthcare workers end up spending more from their pocket or at all refusing to take up locum calls thereby creating a healthcare crisis through unavailability of healthcare providers.”

Locum allowance is paid to a worker who temporarily carries out duties for someone else in the same profession.

The Paum and Nonm are also pressing for an increase in transport allowance from the current K20 000 per month to K100 000.

“For example, in Lilongwe, for a clinician from Area 25 to report for duty he spends an average of K5 000 per day. When multiplied with the 20 working days in a month, it comes to K100 000 per month,” the document justifies.

The workers’ representatives are also asking for a risk allowance calculated based on 50 percent of the basic salary “to cushion all future shocks and epidemics arising”.

The two organisations started pressing demands for salary and benefits adjustments following the 44 percent devaluation of the kwacha by the Reserve Bank of Malawi late last year.

However, a consensus was not reached, prompting the intervention of the MHRC which set January 26 2024 as a deadline for a settlement.

When contacted yesterday, Paum president Solomon Chomba said the negotiations were going well only that there were some outstanding issues that are yet to be resolved.

However, he refused to disclose the sticky issues.

Similarly, MHRC executive secretary Habib Osman said she was bound under oath not to share on the issues until they are resolved.

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