LILONGWE: State workers in Malawi have told the government and airlines they will shut the main international airport in the capital Lilongwe today as part of a week-long public sector strike.
The airport closure would cut off the main air routes to the destitute southern African country, which is serviced by Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Ethiopian Airlines.
More than 100,000 public sector workers went on strike last week demanding a 65 percent wage increase – about double the inflation rate – to counter a rising cost of living triggered by a devaluation of the kwacha currency.
Finance Minister Ken Lipenga said the government cannot afford to increase wage costs and is negotiating with the striking workers.
Lipenga told Reuters the wage bill is currently 97 billion kwacha ($277 million) and if they agree to their demands, this will almost triple to 276 billion kwacha, which is equivalent to the whole national budget.