Workers for Terrastone Construction Limited which is building Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) laboratory complex in Blantyre have downed tools over alleged racism abuse by one of their supervisors and low pay.
The workers on Monday blocked the main entrance to the construction site as they demonstrated against to force Terrastone management to look into their challenges.
They accuse one of their bosses – a South African national – who has been at the construction site for not more than a week of being v abusive.
One of the workers Langford Chapita—a brick layer—said they are enduring physical and emotional violence among others.
“He has been calling us names such as monkeys which we are tired of. He is so abusive that at times he can grab you by the neck while working on top of the building. He has only been here for three days but several people have been fired and some others have resigned,” said Chapita.
Speaking on Times Radio Chapita added: “If he is calling us Malawians as monkeys it means everyone in Malawi is a money including the President.”
President Peter Mutharika is on record to have threatened to deport any foreign employer who failed to respect Malawian employees at their work places in the country.
“Any foreign employer who mistreats Malawians in any way, will be sent out of this country, as long as I am President of the country,” cautioned Mutharika.
He warned that racism was an evil which destroyed harmony in multi-racial societies.
The construction workers have also complained of low pay.
The staff are payed K21 930 per fortnight. The pay includes K5 355 for overtime and miscellaneous allowances of K2 640 according to a September pay slip .
Terrastone Human Resource Manager, Mike Khombeya, calmed the situation when he told the workers that management is looking into their complaints.
The two years construction project started in 2016 and is expected to provide exporters with internationally accredited testing services, reducing the need for re-testing, re-inspection and re-certification of their goods abroad.
The laboratory is valued at $12.7million—about K8.87billion, with the overall implementation framework guided by a Contribution Agreement between the European Union and the United Nations Development Programme.
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