Workers unpaid as Chinese bosses ‘flee’

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Maria Amakali

Windhoek-About 29 workers of Great World Constructions and three subcontractors at a site in the Northern Industrial Area were left licking their wounds after their Chinese employer allegedly fled the country without paying them for work done.

The workers allege that they were only paid half their salaries for the months of December and January, but have almost given up hope of receiving their salaries this month after their bosses disappeared without trace. Great World Constructions, owned by Chinese national Qiang Yanxin, was contracted by Sun Group China Town Properties Pty – owned by well-known Chinese businessman Jack Huang – to build 101 units for industrial purposes on an erven alongside Monte Cristo road.

Out of the 101 units, only 61 units were completed before Yanxin and other Chinese nationals at the site left unceremoniously.

When New Era visited the area yesterday, the clearly dejected workers were seated outside the construction site with hopes that the owner of the place will pitch up with answers for them.

However, documents obtained from the site show indicate that two flight tickets in the names of Qiang Yanxin and Zhao Ming were purchased on February 17, for a flight to Johannesburg then Hong Kong.

Titus Shithigona, who spoke on behalf of his colleges, explained that when they showed up for work on February 18 they discovered that their bosses, who resided on site, have packed up and left the previous night.

“We have families to feed and accounts to pay, what are we supposed to do?,” noted Shithigona.

Text messages with threat undertones were sent to the workers from Yanxin’s mobile phone, after some fed-up workers threatened to break down the buildings they have been working on.

Yanxin had earlier told the workers that their January wages were not paid in full because the project owners – Huang – failed to pay the main contractor. Workers recalled, however, that Huang visited the site on February 18 and had informed them that N$4 million was paid into Yanxin’s bank account in December 2016.

New Era could not reach Huang or his representatives for comment yesterday.
The trail of papers left behind shows that the workers were being paid between N$500 and N$1200 a month for their labour.

The frustrated workers informed New Era yesterday that they approached the Katutura police station, Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) for assistance but they were turned away.

Maria Hedimbi, the spokesperson from the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and Nampol’s spokesperson Kauna Shikwambi both said no complaint was lodged with their respective offices as of yesterday.

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