As Malawi is about to begin its 21 day lockdown period on Saturday, to contain COVIN-19 pandemic, the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions (MCTU) has appealed to the government and employers in the country to seriously consider putting in place measures to mitigate the impact of the lockdown on the livelihood of certain categories of the citizens and workers as the country is already going through economic challenges.
MCTU made the call through a press statement issued on April 15, and signed by its Secretary General, Denis Kalekeni.
The statement said while lockdown initiative is a proven way of containing the spread of the virus as evidenced by experiences in other countries, it is a significant and devastating shock to the already precarious and fragile livelihoods of the majority of citizens and workers.
Reads part of the statement: “A lock down situates the majority of workers and citizens between the prevention from contracting the deadly COVID-19 on one hand and starvation and destitution on the other.”
Among other suggestions, MCTU has asked government to provide some financial packages, cash transfers and free food to vulnerable workers and households that earn their living in the informal economy.
MCTU has called on government to increase Pay As You Earn (PAYE) free threshold from K40, 000 to K100, 000 and reduce Value Added Tax (VAT) on all food items and basic services.
The statement also said government should increase the capacity to carryout tests for COVID-19 and should consider making testing compulsory especially in the high density settlement areas.
Further, both government and employers have been asked to ensure the protection of jobs and provision of social security and any other relevant support to workers.
However, MCTU has commended government for reducing prices of fuel.