Representatives of Malawi’s civil servants on Monday put their foot down during a meeting with the Government Negotiating Team (GNT) to proceed with their planned stay away from work next Monday unless government makes tangible offer by Thursday.

Civil Servants Trade Union (CSTU) president Eliah Kamphinda Banda confirmed in an interview on Tuesday that the meeting, which was also attended by National Organisation of Nurses and Midwives (Nonm), failed to reach any agreement.

He said in the absence of any offer from government to address their concerns, civil servants were determined to proceed with the strike as scheduled for February 11 and 12.

Said Kamphinda Banda: “No agreements so far have been made as government’s side say they would like to consult on the demands CSTU and Nonm have tabled. Civil servants have advised us not to call off the stay away until the demands have been met.”

He said the general feeling was that government was given enough time to consider the welfare of public servants and that a strike was inevitable to pile pressure on authorities to act on the demands.

“However, we have agreed that we will meet again on Thursday [today] to hear the results of their findings. The two unions still believe if solutions come before 11th February, then the stay away can be averted.

“Here, we are talking about government coming up with a circular to say salaries and allowances have been revised upwards and that the expenditure control measures have been put on hold among so many issues,” he said.

Kamphinda Banda claimed government was not serious to address the concerns because its team came to the round-table discussion without any offers, which, he said, is playing with people’s lives.

“The two unions will not allow this. We think civil servants are not ready this time to be taken for a ride,” he said.

Dr Macphail Magwira, Principal Secretary for Education (PS1) and chairperson for the GNT, was not answering his phone on Wednesday, but he is on record as having pleaded with the unions to be patient and give his newly constituted GNT a chance before mobilising their members to stage a stay-away.