Vanuatu Workers Claim Mistreatment By Chinese Firm

Second time that Malapoa College construction workers have organized a protest this year, yesterday’s protest was instigated following a reported misunderstanding by workers over contracts and severances

By Anita Roberts

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, July 01, 2017) – Malapoa College Project Construction Workers refused to work yesterday, walked all the way from their work site to town with their grievances to the Department of Labour (DoL) to deal with.

They raised concerns they are allegedly subjected to forced labor.

That they were mistreated by their employee.

The Chinese Company hired to design and complete the Malapoa College extension project is Yianjian Group.

Workers complained about poor communication.

They stressed language is a barrier hindering communication and collaboration within their work place.

They are not happy that their superiors are not fluent English and French, therefore when language difficulties arises sometimes often leads to termination.

Overtime was the next concern.

They said they worked more than 5 days a week or more than 44 hours.

The Employment Act states that the regular hours of work is up to 44 hours per week or 8 hours a day.

Workers conveyed they worked on public holidays and are not granted sick leaves even though they are qualified to after probation.

They alleged they get injuries on operation because they are not provided with personal protective clothing for safety.

Concerns were also raised about alleged maltreatment and unnecessary deduction in salaries. Regarding salaries, workers revealed they never receive payslips, only cash pay by hand.

This was the second time that Malapoa College construction workers have organized a protest this year. The first one was in April.

Yesterday’s protest was instigated following a reported misunderstanding by workers over contracts and severances.

Upon reaching the DoL yesterday afternoon, they (workers) were received by the Labour Officers, Jalen Willie and Steward Sine.

The DoL agreed following discussions that it will assist address these issues as per law to minimize the employee’s grievances.

Today (Thursday), the DoL will visit the project site to talk over the issues with Jianjin Group and with the aim of fixing the workers’ contracts.

Meanwhile, construction companies engaging in projects in the country are encouraged to cross-check regulations and contracts with the Department of Labour to ensure they fully comply with the Labour Law.

Any person without knowledge of the Chinese language is cautioned to seek advice from translators before signing any contract to better understand the terms and conditions.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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