Blantyre is now graced by an opulent giant structure, which towers the core of Malawi’s commercial city. Atop these tonnes of brick and mortar, the then popular Chayamba Building, Development House, Delemere are literally dwarfed. The financial-hub, Victoria Avenue looks like a strip when one stands there.
The splendour of the structure is not only on the outside, inside is just another out of this world ambiance mixed with captivating designs, spectacular artworks on walls and not to mention the comfortable furniture. Many are tempted to confirm that in there, is the reason why the name luxury exists, nothing but a complete paradise seasoned, with aromas that one’s nose is continuously trying to sieve.
However, this week some groups of employees recently dismissed at varied intervals of the day approached Nyasa Times to reveal the under carpet on-goings about this structure housing Amaryllis Hotel.
The hotel is just months old since its opening for service. It also accommodates Food Lovers Market, a popular South African supermarket operated within a franchised grocery stores and convenience stores with other shops in Lilongwe and most of Southern Africa.
As per training, staff in the hospitality sector smile to customers as a way of making them comfortable and for them to feel at home.
But at Amaryllis Hotel, behind those glittering teeth of smiles are individuals suffering from threats, disrespectful outbursts, abuse and high uncertainty of job security.
In sharp contrast, the hotel’s general manager Yusuf Shiraz Jr. has sternly denied existence of workers’ rights violations.
Giving their recount about working for Amaryllis Hotel a group of current and former employees, which requested for confidentiality in fear of their security and jobs, says employees are fired at the hotel on a daily basis.
Some of their crimes are trying to get some fresh air after working in sweltering heat, going to the toilet during working hours, having lunch or supper within the hotel structure, slight delays when reporting for duties, using the elevator when the bosses are in, others deemed as rude when they try to elaborate issues to bosses.
Highlights on the conflicts was attributed to communication breakdown and language differences.
“With the queues on our roads, some of us missed reporting to work by just 4 minutes and we have been axed. Their view is that when the bosses speak and we answer back we are rude but there are many times when their directives or decisions are wrong. When we try to advise them accordingly we are fired,” they unanimously said.
What is left for the remnants is to only agonise on when and how their journey will end at Amaryllis Hotel, which to most is an unbearable psychological torture.
They further laid bare that the hotel has international staff in positions that many Malawians are qualified for, like chefs and maintenance services.
“There is a chef called Zahir and a service maintenance individual called Abdul, we have doubts if these people have work permits. Through you Nyasa Times, we would like the Department Immigration and Citizenship Services to conduct detailed investigations not only on Amaryllis but the hotel industry as a whole. The reason is, many international individuals are taking away jobs from Malawians yet several of the 18 million of us are very qualified for those posts,” said the group.
They then appealed to the Government to safeguard workers’ rights and the Malawi labour market as there is continued exploitation since some employers either opt for cheap labour or non-qualified people, a development that compromises quality services and Malawi’s national image.
The country has several rogue employers who off-load employees, taking advantage of the many people who are desperate to earn a living
Said the group, “There are a lot of issues, those people of colour are given more wages and benefits for the same jobs we do. But it is only us (Malawians) who always get fired. Much as we have requested for confidentiality to you (Nyasa Times) because of possible reprisals, we have initiated the process of speaking out for employees especially those working for non-indigenous Malawians let us not suffer in silence any longer.”
Amaryllis Hotel is owned by Yusuf Shiraz. The hotel’s hierarchy has Yusuf Shiraz Jr. as General Manager, his wife managing operations of Food Lovers market and his mother as an influential management advisor.
Much as the group is contemplating of taking the issue of unfair dismissal to the Industrial Relations Court, they are appealing to the Malawi Government to conduct labour inspections to see to it that working conditions for workers in the country are humane.
In a very brief interview when contacted, the young Shiraz denied the narratives from the former employees saying they were only a frustrated after their exit from the magnificent hotel.
“We look for productivity and nothing else,” he said cutting the interview short.
Newly appointed Minister of Labour, Skills and Innovation Honourable Lilian Patel assured workers in Malawi that their rights are there to be protected at all times but asked for more time to specifically address the Amaryllis Hotel issue.
As it stands, more people will continue to be hired and fired en masse within the current imposing but slowly tainting paradise shell in Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :