By Louise Jobe
This medium has received information that sixty seven workers of Arezki Construction Company Limited have been sacked from their work. Arezki is the Company contracted to build the Lamin Koto / Passamas road in the northern Region of the Central River.
According to the workers, they are sacked because they demanded for their contract papers, salary increment, over time payment and better working conditions; that they waited patiently for a response from the authorities of the Company, only to be sacked.
Mr. Demba Mballow, spokesperson for the sacked employees said they’ve been working for the Company since 2013; that they completed several projects such as the Brikama -Dimbaya road from where they were taken to Senegal in January 2015; that when they came back, they continued work at the Banjul International Airport, Gambisara road in URR, the Sting Corner road and the Sukuta / Jambang Jelly. Mr. Mballow said the Company also operates in Guinea Bissau.
Mr. Mballow told this medium that their problems with the Company began when they started the Lamin Koto Passamass road project; that it is here that their rights and entitlements as workers, have been seized in broad daylight in their own country. ‘‘It is here that we experienced lateness in salary payments and it will last for 15 days and it has never happened to us. They do not give us weekend pay which we do and we are not allowed to visit our loved ones even once in the month,’’ Mballow lamented to this reporter.
Mballow said they are paid meager salaries by the Company which was going fine and together with their contract bonuses, without problems. But that things started to change when they started raising complaints to the management of the Company for better working conditions, early payment of salary and so on; that this was done in the spirit of camaraderie and respect, as they have spent some time, working for the Company; but that the response of the Company authorities was just a thunderbolt from the blue. On his part, Buba Darboe said they engaged the Company authorities in dialogue because they wanted to have their contract documents signed. Mr. Darboe said because they raised their voices to demand for what is their legitimate right, and the authorities of the Company have decided to sack them from work. He said they are prepared to take the matter up to any level to get redress.
The spokesperson of the workers indicated that the new Government should look in to the state of affairs of Arezki Construction Company and how they are treating their workers who are nationals of the country.
This reporter was able to speak to one Ebrima Colley, the Assistant Director of Technical Services at the Ministry of Works, Transport and Infrastructural Development. When contacted to shed light on the story, Mr. Colley said he does not know anything about the issue because he is not responsible for the construction project and the contractor that is the Company; that the project is under the NRA.
However when contacted, Mr. Bala Ceesay, the Project Coordinator of the National Roads Authority admitted that he is aware of the problem between Arezki Construction Company and their workers, but declined to comment further because his Managing Director is not in country and did not have the mandate to give an interview to Journalist; that the MD will be back next week and if he is allowed, he will talk to Journalist to shed light on the issue.