Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU) has asked government to revise the minimum wage from the current K50 000 to K100 000 to ease the challenges low-income earners are facing.
Speaking in Lilongwe on Thursday during a tripartite consultative meeting between government and other players in the labour market, MCTU president Charles Kumchenga said some workers are currently demotivated because their earnings do not match the cost of living.
NyaLonje: Motivated workforce contributes significantly
“Some employers deliberately exploit their workers because the minimum wage itself is weak. You may wish to challenge that the minimum wage does not match the current cost of living,” he said.
Kumchenga also stressed on the need to intensify effective workplace inspection to ensure that people are working in conducive environments that promote their safety and motivation.
Employers Consultative Association of Malawi president Anne Chavula said employers are operating under pressure from the global economic crises.
However, she said its membership is fully aware of the mandate they have towards the achievement of the Malawi 2063 Vision through creating conducive conditions for their employees.
Kumchenga: Earnings do not match the cost of living
“I want to assure you that as employers, we will play our part very well to contribute to the social economic growth of the country and the welfare of employees,” said Chavula.
On her part, Minister of Labour Agnes NyaLonje described the labour sector as an important part of the country’s development; hence the need for good working conditions.
“This is one of the important arms of the life of the country. As such, consultative meetings like this one are required frequently so that decisions on whether to adjust certain things can be made timely,” she said.
NyaLonje admmitted that a motivated workforce contributes significantly to a country’s economy, adding it is important to hold dialogue on the concerns of workers and address them accordingly.
On whether the proposed K100 000 minimum wage is realistic, Malawi University of Business and Applied Science associate professor of economics Betchani Tchereni said the prevailing economic situation puts a proper living wage way above the proposed figure by MCTU, especially with factors such as inflation which have been soaring as well as the foreign exchange rate.
“The discussion in Malawi should be around a living wage not a minimum wage. But it makes economic sense to adjust the wages upwards,” he said
Data from a World Food Programme website published on December 6 2022 shows that the average cost of a typical household’s survival minimum expenditure basket in Malawi was K78 398 in early September 2022 while the cost of the urban area was at K94 699 per month.
On the other hand, the Centre for Social Concern in December 2022 pegged the cost of food per household was over K209 000 per month..
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