Mozambique: Workers Sacked for Marching on May Day

Maputo — A Maputo building company, MMD Construcoes, has sacked 38 workers allegedly because they protested against the company management during this year's May Day march.

According to a report in the daily paper "Diario de Mocambique", the MMD workers carried placards which angered the company management. One of them called for the payment of compensation agreed when the company, then known as Promo Ltd., was sold to the current owners three years ago.

"When they took over the company, they promised to pay us compensation within a year, and that hasn't happened", said one of the workers, Vasco Albertino. "When they heard that we were going to march on 1st May, they tried to forbid us from marching, or that we march under banners that they designed".

The workers rejected this proposal, and made their own placards, on which they painted their own slogans. This so irritated their employers that disciplinary proceedings were initiated against 42 employees, which culminated with the expulsion of 38 of them.

Augusto Sitoe, another of the expelled workers, said that the company's behaviour was clearly illegal, since the constitution gives citizens the right to demonstrate.

The May Day march, he added, had been an opportunity to protest at the systematic violation of workers' rights at MMD. He said that, under the previous owners, overtime was paid at the rate of 30 meticais (1.1 dollars) an hour, but that has now been cut to ten meticais an hour.

A third worker, Zacarias Samo, said that over 100 workers from the company took part in the march - some had worked for the company when it was called Promo, while others had joined the company subsequent to its sale. But the employers had only expelled those who came from Promo - which Samo took as evidence that the real intention was to avoid paying the compensation that had been agreed in 2009.

"Diario de Mocambique" attempted to speak to the company, but one of its owners, Abdul Ibraim Ibraim declared "I have nothing to say. The matter is with the Labour Ministry".

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