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Chinese firm ill-treating labourers

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By Rebecca Chimjeka:

KALEKENI—Construction is a risky job

Chinese nationals constructing Grand China Business Park in Lilongwe are said to be ill-treating and abusing local labourers.

According to Malawi News investigations, Malawians working at the site which is closer to Bunda Bypass Road are being abused, with some being beaten, paid very low and working from 7 am to 10 pm without being provided with transport.

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Most of those working at the site live in locations such as Mtandire, Chinsapo, Likuni, Kawale, Areas 22, 23, 24 and 25.

In an interview, they alleged that their lives are in danger as some of them have been hacked and robbed while walking to their respective areas.

One of the workers, Adam Daisi, said the Chinese nationals go to the extent of beating the local employees when they get upset.

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 “It is unfair practice [what] our Chinese bosses are doing; we are supposed to receive K1,000 or K2,000 per day if we are working from 7 to 5 o’clock but it has never [been] like that…we work until 10 pm and no overtime is given to us, they don’t even provide safety clothing; as I am talking, some of our friends have been disabled due to injuries that they sustained in the course of their work,” he alleged.

A video recording that recently went viral on social media showed running battles between the local employees and their bosses over the same.

In the recording, the locals can be heard arguing with their employers to raise their pay from K2,000 to K4, 000 per day.

However, in the conversation, the Chinese nationals are telling the local employees that if they do not want to receive the current wage, then they should quit their job.

When contacted, however, spokesperson for the Grand China Business Park, Sherry Zhang, said she could not comment on the matter, saying it is only disgruntled workers who are fabricating the matter.

Malawi Congress of Trade Union, Secretary General, Dennis Kalekeni, confirmed to have got wind of reports that Malawian construction workers working at China Business Park are being abused.

He said the K1,000 which the company is paying the local workers is far below the country’s minimum wage and not enough for someone working up to 10 hours a day.

“Construction is a risky job and giving someone K1,000 to work as long as 10 hours could be ill-treatment. MCTU would like to bring to the attention of all employers, particularly the multi-national companies, to seriously consider the plight of local workers,” Kalekeni said.

When contacted however, Minister of Labour, Youth and Manpower Development, Francis Kasaila asked Malawi News for evidence that Malawian workers are indeed being Ill-treated.

He said the best way forward for the workers was to organise themselves and officially complain to the ministry.

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