Indian shop owners in Malawi say workers’ strike cost them K50m

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The Association of Indian Community estimated that its members who own shops in Malawi’s capital city, Lilongwe lost up to K50 million following Monday’s strike by shop workers. The workers downed tools demanding salary hike claiming that they have never had their salaries revisited. Most of the workers revealed that their salaries range between five to K10,000 a month.

And as of Tuesday most shops owned by foreign nationals, mostly Chinese, Nigerians and Indians in Lilongwe remained closed after a meeting to resolve the salary concerns made no headway on Monday. The meeting couldn’t resolve the matter because representatives of the Nigerian, Chinese and Burundian communities were absent.

The shop workers were demanding for a 200 percent salary increment and better conditions of service among other things. The workers’ action saw scores of business people from districts around Lilongwe who flock to the city to buy commodities for resell in their respective areas stranded. The continued sit-in forced the Minister of Labour, Eunice Makangala and her principal secretary to be part of the meeting held Tuesday morning at Bwalo la Njovu in the capital city.

They striking workers were demanding a minimum salary of K20, 000 for the lowest paid workers and a minimum of K40, 000 for the highest paid worker. Charles Saidi, spokesperson for the workers, claimed that they had been petitioning their respective employers to revisit their salaries but nothing tangible came out. Saidi said the shop owners were only interested in their profits at the expense of their welfare. “What can we do with a K5, 000 salary?” asked Saidi in an interview Tuesday morning.

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