They gave warning if company does not pay their 28 months of salary arrears*
Workers of South West International Construction Corporation, SICC, charged with the construction of Marché Congo and some 182 low cost houses in Yassa are discontented. Some have not been paid two months’ salary in 2013, six months in 2014, six months in 2015 and the whole of 2016. Though they have always presented their grievances to company hierarchy, the promises were never kept till March 27 that they decided to downed their tools till salary arrears are paid.
According to the Human Resource Chief of SICC, Ouwe Lazard, the situation has made them miserable not only in their households but also in society. “When the complaints are too much, hierarchy will give between FCFA 10,000 and FCFA 30,000 to workers, promising a month’s salary in few days that hardly come to pass,” he lamented. Seeing the way work is slow and workers helpless, the foreign partner of SICC decided to take over the projects and pay workers arrears but the General Manager is reluctant to finalise the deal. A deal, he said that will remove them out of poverty, restore their dignity and safe them from losing their job. Apart from owing workers bundles of arrears, a list of grievances by the staff representatives to administrative authorities underlined that of the close to 60 workers of the company, only three are registered with the National Social Insurance Fund. In addition, workers are deprived of health insurance, annual leave, gratuities, advancement and payment of additional time while some suffer arbitrary sanctions and dismissal without quarrel letter.
At the Marché Congo construction site Tuesday March 30th, the frustrated workers were busy digging a grave to burry one of theirs who died in the Eséka train accident. According to one of the workers Bel Salomon, the General Manager has been informed about the corpse removal from the Edea Regional Hospital on Friday March 31st and subsequent burial the next day. But at press time, hierarchy is yet to make provisions. They have decided that if nothing is done the corpse will be removed and taken to the General Manager’s residence for wake keeping and burial done in the market. The General Manager of SICC through a phone call claimed she was busy and promised to get back to this reporter for her side of the story.