Malawi teachers strike over salary arrears

Thousands of government school teachers in Malawi stayed away from classrooms on Monday in a protest over the non-payment of their December salaries, their union said.

Around 5,000 teachers did not get their pay after they were removed from the payroll when government started demanding national identity cards to process civil servant salaries.

That measure was introduced by the southern African country in July last year in a bid to get rid of so-called ghost workers - people falsely included on the payroll.

Malawi's teacher union (TUM) claims that most of the unpaid teachers had submitted their identity cards.

"The problem is that there were hitches in the system... which resulted in some of the IDs being rejected" TUM president Willie Malimba told AFP.

In the cities of Blantyre, Zomba and Dedza, thousands of teachers were joined by pupils to march against the delay.

Chanting and waving placards, they blocked access to main roads and gathered at the education ministry district offices.

"We will not take it anymore and we demand our dues," said primary school teacher Chisomo Maotcha protesting in Blantyre.

"This is money we have worked for," she said.The education ministry's principal secretary Justin Saidi downplayed the protest and said payments were being processed.

"We started demanding IDs so that we not pay the wrong people," said Saidi.
Some of those teachers who received their salaries, also joined in the protest in solidarity with their colleagues.

There are around 80,000 teachers working in Malawi government schools.