08 Jul 2014 07:40am
WALVIS BAY, 08 JUL (NAMPA) Employees of sub-contractors employed by the Seven Sirs Group on the Mass Housing project in Walvis Bay on Friday refused to work due to alleged delays in the payment of their salaries.
This is the second time that payment-related issues interrupted work on the project at this harbour town. In May this year, the workers downed tools, demanding payment as they are allegedly always paid late, and rarely paid in full.
This was attributed to a delay in the releasing of funds from Treasury to the National Housing Enterprise (NHE), which then has to pay all contractors nationwide so that they can, in turn, pay sub-contractors and their employees.
Last month, Government released approximately N.dollars 220 million to NHE for the housing projects.
A sub-contractor at the site told Nampa that on Friday, the employees decided not to work until they received their money. However, they later agreed to return to work on Monday after being paid part of the money on Friday.
Sub-contractors and employees are tired of working without payment and when it comes, it is always half. A lot of our employees lost accommodation because they were not paying rent, and some of them even quit work.
These are people who came from the North just to come work here, and if they are not paid, it is obvious that they will be frustrated, he explained.
The sub-contractor stated that even Fridays payment was only enough to pay some employees, and sub-contractors resorted to only paying employees who were openly demanding and in serious need of money.
No worker was doing duty last Friday.
He further complained that a lot of sub-contractors have allegedly lost money as they quit without being paid all the monies due to them.
People do not care if you quit work because they will easily replace you. The project is not affected in any way as it is still progressing, it is just us who suffer losses. This unfair situation might continue until the project is complete, the construction entrepreneur argued.
On his part, the NHEs branch manager for the Erongo Region, Karl Schroeder, said he did not know about the strike, but maintained that the money was already paid into Seven Sirs account.
Seven Sirs director Alvin Naidoo confirmed that the money was paid, adding that not all of it could be paid on Friday as it takes some time before the payment reflects on his companys account.
On Monday, he promised that the remaining money would be paid to sub-contractors by Monday afternoon.
We are doing our best to keep the project going and provide employment. We faced a delay previously with the money from the NHE, but things are in order now, Naidoo told this news agency.
He also used this opportunity to urge the sub-contractors to establish good communication channels with him as it helps to hear their problems and develop strategies to solve them.
You cannot just decide you will strike; we need to talk and solve problems. I understand people need food and they are not interested in politics, I sympathise with everyone. But sub-contractors just need to communicate well with employees, Naidoo reasoned.
The contractor promised to pay the sub-contractors henceforth on time, which is on the seventh of every month.
This, however, will only be possible if the NHE does its part and pays the money into the companys account on time.
We are trying to move away from the negativity surrounding the Mass Housing project, especially unconfirmed newspaper reports. This project is supposed to be a project for the people, and they must benefit from it, Naidoo stated.
There are about 70 houses under construction in the Kuisebmond residential area, most of which have been completed as the project has been progressing at a speedy rate, despite the several hiccups experienced.
There are 25 sub-contractors working on the project, which employs about 300 locals.