08 May 2014 13:40pm
WALVIS BAY, 08 MAY (NAMPA) Employees working on the mass housing project in Walvis Bay are complaining about a delay in getting their salaries.
Some sub-contractors told Nampa here on Wednesday they have not received their salaries from 7 Sirs, a South African company which sub-contracted them to do the job.
Our workers are resigning as there is no financial compensation. I lost experienced workers as a result of this delay. Out of 17 people I employed only six are left, the rest resigned as they refuse to wait for their money that long, said one senior worker who spoke on condition of anonymity.
More than 10 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) from Walvis Bay were sub-contracted by 7 Sirs to start constructing houses in the Kuisebmond residential area as of on 13 March this year.
The National Housing Enterprise (NHE) awarded the tender to 7 Sirs to construct 1 595 houses in Walvis Bay within a period of 18 months from March this year. There are 70 houses currently under construction in Kuisebmond.
The delay in payment resulted in workers downing tools on Tuesday.
As such, an urgent meeting between the sub-contracted companies and 7 Sirs director Alvin Naidoo took place here on Wednesday, during which the parties agreed that the employees return to work and that their monies will be deposited into the sub-contractors' accounts on Thursday this week.
The sub-contractors also revealed that they do not have signed contracts with 7 Sirs and that their agreements were verbal.
We were desperate to get jobs thus we agreed to a verbal contract on the promise that we will receive written contracts in due course. We started panicking, as our monies are not paid, another sub-contractor said.
He, however, noted that in April this year, sub-contractors received a total of N.dollars 10 million from 7 Sirs.
This amount was distributed among all sub-contractors and each received about N.dollars 8 000 to pay salaries, but this was not enough to pay all their employees.
Confirming the situation to Nampa on Wednesday, Naidoo gave his assurance that the money will be deposited into the sub-contractors accounts on Thursday.
He cited administrative processes and public holidays as the cause for the delay in payment.
Naidoo, however, said the project is on track despite the money issues.
The situation is regrettable, but we are trying to get cash or deposit cheques in their accounts, he said.
Naidoo confirmed the verbal contracts, and said his company is busy drawing up written contracts for distribution early next week.
In the meantime, he raised a concern about the lack of skills among some sub-contractors and workers on the project, saying it is a challenge.
He referred to skills such as bricklaying, carpeting, painting and plumbing.
We are trying to give everyone a chance to get a job and gain experience in the construction industry. We understand that most SMEs here do not have enough skills and we are here to groom them, he explained.