Unpaid workers seize contractor’s equipment

Construction workers recently retrenched at Keetmanshoop-based company Gigi's Construction took the law into their own hands yesterday when they confiscated several pieces of equipment belonging to a contractor who has reportedly failed to pay them their outstanding wages.

The workers carried the equipment on foot from the construction site near Tseiblaagte to the police station in central town and have given the company until today to pay up what is due to them, failure of which would force them to sell the equipment and share the money among themselves to off-set the outstanding wages.

The workers seized a cement mixer, an electric generator, a compactor, several wheelbarrows, spades and other materials, and walked a distance of about five kilometres from the site to the police station, saying they don't want trouble but only want what is due to them.

The workers who are constructing low-cost houses at Keetmanshoop, alleged the company owes them wages amounting to about N$42 000, which is for brick-layers and general workers.

They said they have been struggling to get their wages, and upon enquiry last Friday, they were only paid half and informed the remaining amount will be received on Tuesday.

One of the workers, Elfeus Wilhem, said when they approached the company for their remaining wages, they were told they no longer work for the company and that the company will not be paying them.

"When we asked about our money they told us that we no longer work there and that they will not give us even a dollar," he said.

He added that workers - after days of trying to reason with company owner Elize Dadi Dausab but without success - decided to confiscate the equipment so that the company could pay them.

The determined workers indicated they are not doing anything illegal, insisting they have informed the police beforehand about their intentions and they remain focused until they get what is due to them.

Workers maintained if the company failed to pay them latest by today, they will have no choice but to sell the equipment and share the profits amongst themselves, noting that they have rent and other expenses that they have to pay.

"We give her today and tomorrow and after that we will sell the things and divide the money amongst ourselves," said one of the workers who preferred anonymity.

Contacted for comment Dausab said she was in a meeting at the time and promised to call back, but she has not done so at the time of going to print.

Gigi's Construction is one of the companies to have entered into a Private Public Partnership (PPP) with the Keetmanshoop municipality to construct low-cost houses for residents.

Source: New Era Newspaper Namibia