Malawi government has come under intense pressure and pressed a panic button following the industrial action by the airport staff workers as a way of forcing the government to address their concerns raised in a petition presented some months ago.
The last time the staff members presented their petition, government agreed that it will implement the changes.
The staff members are among other things demanding promotions, risk allowances, revision of duty allowances among others.
Nyasa Times investigations can reveal that cargo planes including those meant to bring in Covid-19 materials including testing kits have been cancelled since the sit in started Monday this week.
“Emirates flight today [Friday] flies to Mozambique, Uganda and Malawi. Today it failed to bring in covid materials,” one of the airport staff worker told Nyasa Times on Friday.
“This forced Dr. Charles Mwansambo who is the Director of Health Services in the Ministry of Health and presidential task force on Covid-19 to call for dialogue with us on Monday,” he added.
In an interview with a local radio, Mwansambo admitted that Blantyre and many parts of the country had run out of Covid-19 testing kits.
The continued sit-in has forced government to plead the workers to call off the sit in and return to work immediately.
According to a statement from the Office of the President and Cabinet ( OPC) signed by Cliff Chiunda for the Chief Secretary to the government and seen by Nyasa Times, claims that government has already started working on the workers concerns.
“I wish to assure you that all the concerns that were raised in your letter are being considered by the relevant government department’s and I have also noted that indeed some of the issues have already been addressed,” reads part of the statement.
The statement further states that meetings between government officials and representatives of concerned workers will start meeting from Monday 21st July, 2020 to discuss further the outstanding issues.
“That meeting and anyway subsequent ones that will follow will thoroughly consider all the outstanding matters and come up with specific timeline in resolving them” the statement reads.
In conclusion, Chiunda in the statement said: “Meanwhile it will be my expectation that you will ave confidence in my assurances to resolve all concerns and therefore call off the industrial action at the airports and return to work immediately.”
The staff members however have stick to their guns and maintains they will not go back to work until their grievances are addressed.