Mozambique: Building Workers On Strike in Afungi

Maputo — About 2,000 workers in the construction consortium, led by the Italian company CMC-Africa Austral, who are building the resettlement town for people displaced from their homes in the Afungi Peninsula in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, by the natural gas liquefaction project, went on strike on Monday, according to a report in Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax".

Since work began in the first quarter of this year there have been several strikes, with the building workers claiming that the CMC consortium has violated their rights.

Last week the workers took strike action again, in protest against the employer's decision that there would be no interruption to the work over the Xmas and New Year period. After negotiations between the workers' trade union committee and the CMC managers, the employer yielded and it was agreed that the entire work force would be granted holidays from 21 December to 6 January. Work would resume on 7 January.

Despite this agreement, the workers went on strike again on Monday, claiming that they had suffered unjustified cuts, of up to 3,000 meticais (about 48 US dollars), to their wages. They said they had received no satisfactory explanation from their employer.

On Tuesday, the Palma district administrator and permanent secretary, accompanied by a strong police and military escort, went to the CMC work yard, in an attempt to understand what was behind the strike and to begin a dialogue between the strikers and the company. But there was no progress and the strike continued.

The police and military also strengthened security at the camp of Anadarko Petroleum, the US company heading the natural gas liquefaction consortium. Anadarko does not employ the construction workers, whose contracts are with CMC. Nonetheless, the strikers say they want to speak to Anadarko.

To build the resettlement town, Anadarko sub-contracted 22 companies led by CMC. 1,950 workers are employed on building the town. 1,827 (93 per cent) are Mozambicans and the remaining 123 are foreigners.

In order for the Anadarko-led consortium to build the two planned gas liquefaction plants (known as "trains") on the Afungi Peninsula, about 500 families currently living on the site must be resettled.

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