Primary and secondary school teachers across Malawi have downed tools in solidarity with their colleagues who were not paid their salaries for December 2019.
The government last month removed some teachers – and thousands of other civil servants - from the government payroll for failing to produce national identification (ID) cards.
The IDs have only recently been introduced in Malawi and the government says it will use them as the primary source of identification of its workers in order to get rid of so-called "ghost’ workers".
The Teachers Union of Malawi (TUM) however says none of the teachers removed from the government payroll have failed to produce IDs, saying that their identity documents were instead misplaced after they were given to the authorities.
The TUM has said it is backed by a leading civil society organisation in the education sector, the Civil Society Education Coalition whose head, Benedict Kondowe, said he had helped ensure the teachers had complied with the government directive.
“From today all teachers will not be attending class, but instead stage a sit-in at their nearest district education offices until all teachers have been paid,” TUM secretary general Charles Kumchenga said.
For most of Monday, government officials were locked in meetings discussing the impasse, but earlier, Education Minister Justin Saidi said the government was willing to engage the union in order to amicably resolve the pay dispute.