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Construction workers in two-month ‘forced quarantine’

CAPITOL SOCIAL HALL PADLOCK/JAN.28,2013:Acting Gov. Agnes Magpale ordered the padlock of the Capitol Social hall and other Session hall to prevent the supporter of Suspended Gov Gwen Garcia to used the function hall.(CDN PHOTO/LITO TECSON)

ALVIN CHIINGA, Lusaka
FIVE casual workers at Chinese Dafa Construction Company in Chongwe district have been locked up without going to their homes for more than two months.
The workers, who were found inside the premises when Chongwe District Commissioner Robster Mwanza and a team of police, journalists and labour officers visited the company on Monday, said they need to go home when they knock off but they are not allowed to do so.
“We have not been to our homes and it is against our wish. We eat well but our employers don’t allow us to go to our homes saying we will contract COVID-19,” one of the workers, Beatrice Mweemba, said.
Mr Mwanza, who arrived at the premises around 10:00 hours, took to task company director Yu Dafa, who spoke through an interpreter.
“Why are you not allowing these workers to rotate if you are scared of them crowding your firm?” he asked.
Mr Mwanza warned the company management that what they were doing was against Zambian labour laws because every worker has the right to go to their homes after knocking off.
“You people should know that there is the ‘new normal’ now. Allow your workers to knock off and you could also rotate them just like other companies are doing,” he said.
The workers, who are cleaners and also do gardening, have not been allowed to go home for over two months.
“They have told us that if you want to knock off and go home, you [should] be prepared to get half salary. Now with the meagre salaries we get, no one is ready to sacrifice and this is why we have been confined here,” another worker said.
But Mr Yu said management has agreed with the workers for them not to go home after knocking off.
“If they want to leave, then they can do so,” Mr Yu said.
After a protracted discussion with the company management, Mr Mwanza said the workers should be allowed to go home every day after they knock off.
“Some of these people have wives and children at home. Who is looking after their children when you lock them up here?” he said.
The workers said Chinese workers at the premises are allowed to go out to buy whatever they want, but Zambian workers are not allowed to do so.


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