Thursday, December 6, 2012

■ MALAWI: Strike by DCA workers at Lilongwe's Kamuzu Int'l Airport causes serious delays, disruptions.

MalawiGround-handling staff at Lilongwe's Kamuzu International Airport (KIA) have, since Monday, abandoned their night shifts at the airport, amidst other industrial action, in protest at unpaid overtime allowances that they claim "date back years."

Since Monday, DCA workers, who normally work in shifts around the clock,  have now adopted a regularized work day (07h00 to 17h00)  including a lunch break between 13h00 and 14h00, a development which has affected air traffic for flights scheduled to land at lunchtime and at night.

Lilongwe's Kamuzu International Airport
Lilongwe's Kamuzu International Airport (M Robertshaw)
The dispute arose after workers, via their Union, claimed the Malawian government had failed to meet a seven day ultimatum to revise allowances given to Department of Civil Aviation staff for working during odd hours, over the weekends and public holidays. They also accused the airport management and the Malawi government of aggravating the issue by showing no interest in round table discussions in a bid to find lasting solution.

Currently DCA workers are paid the equivalent of MWK1'500 (USD4.55 at the official rate) per month demands that it be hiked to at least MWK6'000 (USD18.22). A Malawi Government offer on Monday of MWK4'500 (USD13.66) as minimum and MWK8'000 (USD24.29) as maximum pay per month was rejected with workers opting instead to continue with their strike.

Late on Tuesday, government is said to have approved increased allowances for the staff members but did disclose how much or whether the amounts proposed, had been accepted.