Written by YAMIKANI SIMUTOWE
BLANTYRE—More pressure continues to pile on Pres Joyce Banda’s administration as Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) has ordered all teachers to stop teaching and join the ongoing strike by civil servants despite government’s call not to do so.
TUM made the announcement Monday, saying teacher’s salaries have shrunk almost by 30 percent and no teacher can cope with the high cost of living following the devaluation last year.
TUM general secretary Denis Kalekeni said their decision was in solidarity with fellow public workers. They said they fully support grievances raised by the Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU).
“It is better to declare that we have stopped teaching than to be pretending as if teachers are teaching when in actual fact, they stopped teaching.
“Prices of basic commodities continue to skyrocket almost every day, yet government is trying to [turn] a blind eye [to] realities of life,” said Kalekeni.
He also said teachers would part of the civil servants peaceful demonstrations to be staged on Wednesday this week.
“We will jointly match to the office of the president and cabinet to present our concerns.
“Our decision is not aimed at punishing the students, it’s about our welfare; government should just hike our salaries before things get out of hand,” Kalekeni added.
All along, civil servants have been asking for a 67 percent salary increment, but unconfirmed reports show that government may consider hiking public officer’s salaries at least by 20 percent. There are fears that if government bows down to the 67 percent salary increment demand, its wage bill currently at K92 billion would skyrocket to K210 million per year.
This, according to sources, may affect the operations of the government as its economy is still fragile.
CSTU president Eliah Kamphinda Banda said civil servants will continue with the strike, even if the door for discussions with government negotiating team is still open.
He also claimed that government isn't forthcoming as regards to negotiations hence “civil servants in all the districts should join the strike” and that they will gather at the offices of the district commissioner.
Meanwhile, there are also strong fears if health workers and employees of the civil avian department join the strike, this would paralyze operations at public health facilities and airports.
(c) The Maravi Post 2013