John Manzongo At the workplace
There is serious need for Government and the private sector to formulate policies that protect and safeguard the rights of contract workers who are usually paid according to production. Research has shown that these workers are the best assets in many companies as they are on the workplace for 365 days and everyday they must be productive to them because if they do not, it means they will earn less or nothing at the end of the month.
The sad point is that many companies are exploiting contract workers just because they are desperate for employment.
Many contract workers are not covered by company social security schemes as they are taken for granted yet they are the most productive.
Female contract workers tend to be highly vulnerable to abuse at the workplace by male bosses in the hope of retaining the contract or getting a permanent position in the near future.
Abuse by bosses is also leading to many marriage break-ups after the extra marital affairs are discovered. Female contract workers who fall pregnant end up overworking themselves to the extent of affecting the babies in their wombs since they will be reluctant to go on maternity leave for fear of losing their positions or income which they highly depend on for the sustenance of their families. Upon delivery, the female workers quickly return to work again thereby starving or depriving the babies of proper feeding resulting in underfed babies.
Contract workers do not enjoy overtime allowances, leave days or off days like other employees on permanent contracts. When a contract worker is sick he or she forces self to come to work because failure will result in non payment of their wage.
When it comes to payment of salaries and wages, contract workers are always paid last or two months later and during that time they will be accruing debts mostly with interests and when their pay finally comes they will just pay off thus they are in continuous exploitation till death.
Most of the times, contract workers use their own money in the form of bus fare and others incur unforeseen expenses while pursuing their targets.
They essentially subsidise the company. When things are good, contract workers are also good to the company but when things go wrong, for example if the contract worker is involved in an accident, the company he or she will be working for quickly distances itself from him or her and even rejects that he or she was executing official duties. Most of the times the contract worker will have to bear the effects of that accident alone and his or her family will also lose a bread winner.
Many contract workers find it hard to report sexual harassment or sexual abuse cases perpetrated against them because they will be removed from their contracts. In some instances where they are brave enough to report the cases they hardly find people willing to stand in their corner defending them, and instead they end up attracting more enemies who will ensure that they are sacked and their contracts terminated.
If they are females they will end up being labelled all sorts of names as if they would have applied to be victimised or to be abused. While verbal contracts such as those that mainly exist between maids, and other domestic workers are legally binding, many contract workers find it hard to challenge their employers when their rights are violated or when they are not paid in time because of fear of being sacked.
When contract workers for example die while on duty the only thing the companies usually do is to employ the deceased’s children, also on a contract basis thereby passing the exploitation baton from father to son, mother to daughter and so on and life goes on.
As pointed earlier, contract workers are the most hard working lot in many companies because for they have mastered the canon that you eat what you gather.
This is unlike permanent workers who, whether they are productive or not, can still get their salaries month-end.
In the construction sector some companies are even deducting pensions from contract workers and not remitting the same to the relevant offices. The anomaly will only be discovered when the worker is sacked, retired or when the company closes down and by then there will not be a remedy.