Mota-Engil says Malawians behind its force, denies favouring Thai labour

Mota-Engil says it continue to put faith in Malawian labour force, denying that it will no longer employ Malawians because it wants to employ Thais.

Workers of the company have been making claims that the management told them that they will not importing Thai labour force as opposed to Malawians.

However, Mota Engil- Malawi Managing Director, Jose Dinis da Silva, told Nyasa Times on Friday that his company is keen to keep Malawian labour force, saying   the deadlock on railway construction camp in Neno in southern Malawi where workers are staging a sit in will be resolved amicably.

“We must emphasize that we have got a working force of 5000 employees at different levels and we never had nothing similar to the current situation,” he said.

Strike action at Mota-Engil $1 billion rail project
Strike action at Mota-Engil $1 billion rail project

He also parried away accusations that Thai are illegal immigrants and unskilled labour replacing Malawians, saying they all have work permit.

The workers downed tools on Monday demanding increased wages and that Thais at the company should be sent packing.

About 300 Thais are said to have arrived in the country three weeks ago, as part of the Mota-Engil acceleration on the works to achieve the ambitious milestone set to the construction of the $1 billion Kachaso to Nkaya railway link.

The employees turned down a 30 percent wage hike demanding that they be paid equivalent to foreigners whom they accuse of snatching their jobs.

Thais are reportedly getting US$1,300 a month plus K8, 000 daily allowances when the locals get between k11, 000 to K27, 000.

But the company explained that Thais are contracted through an outsourcing supplier therefore the contract arrangements between them are not known to them.

“Our employees they follow the regulations put in place in terms of salaries as per described by the recent general increment promoted by government. We must emphasize that we have recognized conditions of service well known by the Labour Office which we do entirely abide,” said Dinis da Silva.

He confirmed that the company has 115 employees from Thailand, saying “they will facilitate know-how and skills transference” to Malawian workers.

Dinis da Silva said Mota- Engil “is a very fair and honest company” and that it will resolve the labour dispute amicably.

“We always listen our employees we strongly believe and we have provided enough proves of that through out of our history that ‘our people is our strength’,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Labour Eunice Makangala has said the foreigners will be repatriated in phases starting with a group of 21 who have no skills required at the construction company.

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