The Malawi Congress of Trade Union (MCTU), Employers Consultative Association of Malawi (Ecam) and government on Monday agreed that future strikes in parastatal organisations should only happen after all avenues have been explored.

The agreement was signed on Monday evening in the capital Lilongwe after the three institutions noted that strikes are not only affecting the employees, but the nation as a whole.

Briefing the media at the end of the meeting, Minister of Labour Eunice Makangala said most of the strikes in parastatals are due to poor communication between the workers, the Department of Statutory Corporations and management of statutory corporations.

She said: “As government, we realise that the current economic situation following the recent devaluation of the Malawi kwacha calls for adjustment of the remuneration of workers to cushion against the rising cost of living.

“However, any such demands for adjustments should follow laid down procedures as stipulated in the labour laws and also take into account the performance on an enterprise. We are now happy that the agreement we have signed will give dialogue a chance.”

In recent weeks, government has had to deal with strikes at the Lilongwe Water Board, Blantyre Water Board, the University of Malawi, Mzuzu University, the Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and the National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA).

Makangala said all the strikes could have been avoided if stakeholders were proactive in the provision of information.

She said her ministry, having noted that the Labour Relations Act does not stipulate as to which services are essential, has been tasked to speed up the process of reviewing the laws to come up with the list of essential services for gazetting.

MCTU secretary general Robert Mkwezalamba said the meeting recognised that collective bargaining or dialogue should always be the route for resolving labour problems.

“What we want as MCTU is that the role of the statutory corporations should be clarified so that it is not viewed as stifling collective bargaining by the workers in the parastatals,” he said.

Ecam representative, Bridget Jumbe, commended government for organising the tripartite meeting and said that through dialogue many of the problems affecting employees can be sorted out.

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