The floatation of the Kwacha has made most workers in the country poorer, the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) has observed.

The union has urged the government to abandon the system to avert the planned consumer demonstrations scheduled for January.

MCTU president Chauluka Muwake said although the union has not yet made a position on the January 17 Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) led demonstrations, workers in the country will have a lot of justification to participate in the mass action as it aims to bring to the attention of the authorities key issues currently affecting them.

Among other things, the planned action is tackling issues such the floatation of the kwacha and the need for people salaries to be adjusted upwards to be in tandem with the current cost of living.

Muwake said the floatation of the Kwacha has completely eroded the value of salaries and left a lot of workers poorer than they were the same period last year.

“Lives for many workers in the country have been tough in the year 2012 as a result of devaluation and the free movement of the Kwacha on the market. People’s salaries have almost gone to zero,” said Muwake yesterday.

He said there seem to be no hope in the year coming ahead if the government remains adamant on the matter.

“People will look at the agenda of the demonstration, if it addresses their concerns obviously they will take to the streets to add their voice whether MCTU endorses it or not. That is why the government should address the concerns instead of waiting until the day of the demonstrations,” said Muwake. He added that MCTU will be making its position on the demos at a meeting scheduled for the December 30.

He further said if nothing is done of the floatation the MCTU will push for the adoption of a living wage.

“This is a system where salaries of the workers rise automatically when the currency depreciates just as is the case with the fuel prices at the moment.

“We feel this is the only way we can save the worker. The only prayer is for the government to come in and side with the people and consider their plight,” said the MCTU President .

The MCTU is the country’s largest labour federation with a membership of about 100,000 drawn from various sectors of the economy.

A report released from a study conducted by the Center for Social Concern (CFSC) shows that the average cost of living in the country has been rising by two percent per month.

CFSC Programme Officer Alex Nkosi attributed the rise in the cost of living to the devaluation and floatation of the local currency.

The government, however, continues to plead with the people to remain patient and be confident in the policies that are being implemented to rescue the ‘rotten’ economy they inherited.

In her special message for Christmas delivered on Monday this week, President Banda appealed for patience from Malawians on the economic hardships, saying the suffering is worthwhile for realisation of a better life ahead.

“We have come this far. The darkest hour of the night is behind us and dawn is just about to break off. I urge you to stay on course. Malawi will no longer be the same.

We are about to close this chapter in our history of continued suffering. We have begun a new book about Malawi; a new book that tells the story of our great people, of our wealth and glory and of our peace and redemption,” said Banda in the statement.

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