Malawi gov't agrees to raise public workers' salaries, ending 2-week old strike

The Malawi government has agreed to raise public workers' salaries by 60 percent, ending a two-week old strike, a union leader said.

Civil Service Trade Union (CSTU) president Eliah Kamphinda Banda told a press conference in the capital, Lilongwe, Thursday that his team has agreed with the

government negotiating team to end the strike. Banda called on all civil servants to return to work Friday.

According to the agreement, lowest-paid civil servants get a 61 percent pay hike while the highest paid have been given a 5 percent salary increase.

Earlier in the day, police in Lilongwe and the commercial capital of Blantyre used tear gas to break up demonstrations by hundreds of school

children. The students, from public primary and secondary schools, had gone two weeks without attending classes following the public workers' strike.

"We are marching to State House because we are not learning. ... We are tired of not attending classes for two weeks," said 15-year-old Ella Chilenje in Blantyre.

The civil servants say last May's 49 per cent devaluation of the Malawi currency, the kwacha, has eaten into their buying power.