Written by RAPHAEL TENTHANI
BLANTYRE--The Malawi government has agreed to raise public workers' salaries by 61 per cent thereby ending the two-week old strike.
Civil Service Trade Union (CSTU) president Eliah Kamphinda Banda has told a press conference in the capital, Lilongwe, that his team has agreed with the government negotiating team to end the strike.
"Government has agreed to raise our salaries," said Kamphinda Banda.
He said "a new salary structure" has been agreed and called on all civil servants to return to work Friday.
According to the agreement, lowest paid civil servants get a 61 per cent pay hike while the highest paid have been given a 5 per cent salary increase.
Meanwhile, earlier in the day police in Lilongwe, and the commercial capital, Blantyre, used teargas to break up demonstrations by hundreds of school children.
The students, from public primary and secondary schools, have gone two weeks without attending classes following the public workers' strike.
"We are marching to State House because we are not learning. We are all school children, we are leading each other because we are tired of not attending classes for two weeks! We are supposed to sit for exams on 15 March, how are we going to pass the exams since we are not attending classes?" said 15-year-old Ella Chilenje in Blantyre.
Pres Joyce Banda left the country for a summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, early Thursday.
Police turned away the students, number over 100, a few metres from the palace gates.
Other students in other parts of the city were less peaceful. They broke into shops and looted goods, some stoned vehicles.
Police spokesman Nicholas Gondwa said police suspected that some thugs infiltrated the students' strike.
"We haven't arrested anybody but we suspect thugs hijacked the students' demonstration," he said.
The civil servants say last May's 49 per cent devaluation of the Malawi currency, the kwacha, has eaten into their buying power.
© The Maravi Post 2013