The residents of Region Nine are calling on the government to permanently place a Labour Officer in the Region to address issues of conflict between employers and employees. We are also calling on the Regional Tender Board to pay strict adherence to the laws governing the tendering process, so as to avoid sub-contractors and employees of contractors being robbed of payments due, because of lack of due diligence carried out on the contractor.
In October of last year I was sub-contracted to carry out part of a contract on the Sand Creek Agricultural Extension building; it was for electrical installation including a solar-electric system to supply power. After coming to agreement on the price for the job, the contractor paid me a mobilization fee and I proceeded to commence the work. Because the batteries and other components of the solar-electric system were not yet sourced, I was only able to complete 95 per cent of the contract before returning to base.
I expected to be paid on my return from Sand Creek for the work carried out, but was told by the contractor that he was awaiting payment from the government for the entire contract. From then up to recently, this is the excuse he gives every time I enquire about my payment, amounting to $100,000. I have learnt that the same contractor owed money totalling over $400,000 to five other persons for work they carried out on his government contracts, and they are given the same excuse that he gives me.
Because there is no Labour Officer in the Region, the six persons owed monies by this contractor wrote separate letters to the Chairman of the Regional Tender Board complaining of the situation and asking for his intervention to ensure payment. Copies of those letters were given to the Regional Chairman, and copies addressed to the Minister of Labour were delivered to the Welfare/Probation Officer of the Region. Up to now I have not been updated on the situation by the Tender Board or the Regional Chairman, but the Probation Officer was quite sympathetic. In her efforts to help, she introduced us to the Community Development Officer of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, who requested to meet with the contractor, who told him that I refused to return to complete the remaining 5 per cent of the work, making him contract someone else to finish the job.
That statement was clearly untrue, because on checking two weeks ago I found that the batteries and other components were still not installed. It makes one wonder whether he was paid in full for the contract although it is not yet completed. This can also be the case with the five other persons owed monies by this same contractor. It also raises a conflict with the recent public assurance by the Regional Executive Officer that all contracts awarded in 2017 were successfully completed.
Even further, doubt is cast on the recent declaration by the Minister of Finance that Fip Motilall type contracts were a thing of the past. It would be absurd and a disgrace if more Regional contracts are awarded to contractors with a reputation for not paying workers and not completing contracts, but up to the present that seems to be the normal practice.