Pay the Workers!

WHAT’S UP with people who hire workers and then don’t pay them when the job is done?

I keep reading letters to editors, SMS comments and hearing side conversations around town about people who have been hired as health extension workers, census volunteers, or for other temporary jobs, where for months afterwards they remain unpaid. News flash: it is always wrong to steal labour, no matter who does it no matter for what reason.

There are few things worse than not getting paid for work done. When payday comes and goes with no salary deposited, a domino effect of confusion occurs. People not receiving money they expected can be charged penalties for late payments or debit orders presented against insufficient funds, cancellation of accounts, letters demanding late payment, etc… Some of the lowest paid workers and their families can go without food when their salaries don’t arrive on time.

How much do you want to bet that after the elections, the newspapers and radio airwaves will be filled with Electoral Commission of Namibia volunteers, police and extra workers shouting that their salaries or SampT are overdue? I constantly overhear talk about how overtime is not paid or how a 13th cheque that was promised, never materializes.

It’s a disaster for financial planning when you expect your money on the 25th of the month and it slides in a few days later. The Telecom workers reportedly have been going through this.

As a consultant it can be a nightmare to try to get paid when a government ministry is your client. Once, I had to submit invoices 10 times just to get things moving. Because I know the ‘dance’ to get paid by government, I usually fax the invoice, email it and then hand deliver it. Then, I repeat the process with phone calls and visits each week.

Even then, someone behind one of those Ministry desks will tell you they never received your invoice or that the committee that is to approve your payment doesn’t meet until the next quarter.

Now, the contract government signed is specific about the payment schedule and it is linked to work delivery, not a committee’s agenda or the leavefield work schedule of officials.

Quite correctly, when government clients expect your output, groups of them sit in boardrooms awaiting your work presentation as per contract. But, when it’s time to pay you for your hard work, Poof! They vanish the rooms filled with officials and directors are empty leaving you standing alone holding your invoice.

Of course, consultants have to take this payment abuse because we need the work. If we complain, that jeopardises possible new contracts (so, I’m not complaining, I’m just sayin’… )

A major thing that I cannot accept is that some construction companies that win bids complain that the amount they are offered is not enough to pay their workers. Clearly, they purposefully bid low to undercut competitors.

There should be a price to pay for this kind of self-serving manipulation.

Let’s make a law: Three days in jail for the Board of Directors of any company that fails to pay its workers on time for two months consecutively. That law should also provide for payment of workers as FIRST debtors when bankruptcy occurs. (I can just imagine the bankers of Namibia having panic attacks and sweaty nightmares over something like that!)

We all know about the credible complaints from security guards who now have a minimum wage, but seem to be underpaid anyway. Is that law being aggressively policed? Where are the stiff penalties on employers that don’t pay at the right levels? Again, security companies win tenders for jobs and then, complain that they don’t have the money to pay their workers.

I’ll bet that management and shareholders receive their salaries and dividends even though their rank-and-file workers haven’t gotten a cent.

After a few company owners spend some nasty nights in jail, I would bet that underpaymentnon-payment of security guards will quickly become a thing of the past.

Taking work from people and not paying for it is theft, plain and simple. So, pay the workers!

Source : The Namibian