Malawian workers for the Portuguese construction company Mota-Engil which is currently camped in Malawi’s southern district of Neno have gone on strike in protest against what they call unfair salary deal which the company’s machine operators who have come from Vinc Replacement in Thailand.
Company workers have told Nyasa Times that the company has agreed to be paying the Thai workers a monthly salary K450,000 while Malawian operators gets K20,000 per month.
“We feel this is unfair because we can do the work competently and employing foreigners is like they are denying Malawian job opportunity. What can one do with K20, 000 these days? This project will only assist the Portuguese, Brazilians and the Thais who are paid in dollars,” said one worker.
The workers are also demanding the management to reconsider on procedures they follow when dismissing the workers claiming that they feel very insecure since they are being dismissed even without a hearing.
They also say they work from 6a.m to 6 p.m everyday including Saturdays and Sundays with no overtime allowance a development they describe as “exploitation at its worst”.
But Jose Dinis da Silva, Managing Director of Mota Engil Malawi, contractors carrying out the works on behalf of Vale told Nyasa Times on Monday that they have engaged workers into discussion to resolve the labour dispute.
“Our senior officers who are on the site are discussing with the workers representatives to hear what their problems are and I hope that after hearing their problems we can come up with amicable solutions,” said Dinis da Silva.
The Nacala Railway Project belongs to Vale and it involves the construction of a Rail line from Moatze in Mozambique to join the existing line at Nkaya.
Three companies are involved with Vale as client, SRK of South Africa as consultant and Mota-Engil of Portugal as contractor.
The three companies have brought with them many foreigners whose conditions of service like salaries and fringe benefits are much better than those of Malawians.