By Chikondi Manjawira
BLANTYRE-(MaraviPost)-Workers in the Tea industry have all reasons to smile as both the Tea Association of Malawi (TAML) and the Plantation Agriculture Workers Union (PAWU) negotiating teams reached a consensus to hike their worker’s pay by 13 percent.
The move aims at ensuring that the workers are shielded from the high cost of living, COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine effects.
The communiqué between TAML and PAWU was signed on Friday at TAML’s offices in Blantyre.
PAWU’s General Secretary, Wilfred Nkhoma expressed satisfaction with the wage increment among other things, citing the 13 percent as a win-win situation despite not getting their initial wage increment proposal of 25 percent.
According to Nkhoma, the Union bargained with TAML considering the high cost of living that workers are facing in the industry.
He further said that despite the fact that their demands were not fully met, their union will continue meeting TAML whenever need arises for the betterment of working conditions for the workers.
“This agreement will benefit us as PAWU, because the workers who sent us here to meet TAML to consider good working conditions in terms of wages, maternity leave and many issues will now breathe with the 13% wage increment. To us this is a positive development considering the economic hardships that has hit the workers in the industry.
“We initially proposed 25% wage increment and after bargaining with TAML we reached at 13% and we are happy. We did undergo quiet a number of stages such as consulting with the workers on their needs and presented the same to TAML. We discussed all the issues for the workers to benefit,” explained Nkhoma.
Some of the agreed items in the communiqué are; that the wage increment will commence from 1st August 2022 and a conditional 5 percent wage increment from the 1st of January 2023 across the board from grades A1 to A3 and B1 to B5.
The wage increase will be for a period of two years and that parties will meet to review the terms and conditions covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) 2022 upon request of either party in writing to the other party and that maternity leave entitlement be increased from 8 weeks to 12 weeks effective 1st August, 2022 subject to the provisions of the Employment Act.
Commenting on the signed documents, Tea Association’s Chairperson Sangwani Hara said that CBA 2022 is arrived at through a bargaining process.
Hara expressed optimism that the new agreement will be a catalyst for the economic growth of the economy as tea is rated amongst the biggest foreign currency earners.
“The new wage level is one of the many ways of making the Tea Estate workers happy. Hopefully this will make the workers’ working conditions conducive. As TAML, we are appreciative to the workers for they have shown commitment and an understanding.
“The two agreements symbolize a cordial working-relationship between Tea Association members as Employers and PAWU as a representative of the workers, so it means there is dialogue between employers and employees,” he said.
Hara added, “The signing of the communiqué also shows that we are able to reach agreement on issues that affect wages and that all sides have demonstrated commitment to making sure that working conditions are improved for the betterment of Tea Industry in the country”.
The signed agreement will be effective from 1st of August 2022 to 31st of July, 2024.
TAML and PAWU will be jointly announcing the details of the CBA to Tea Estate Management and Workers on 1st of August, 2022.