“We are living a life of uncertainty as workers and that of hell when we go on retirement” says Boitat Fulbert, worker and staff delegate at the national engineering pool, Matgenie office in Douala.
Barely less than two years for Fulbert to go on retirement, he already foresees danger.
“We have not received salaries for over ten months today. Authorities have been promising but do not keep to their words. We have problems with our landlords daily, no money for kids to go to school, many have divorced because of financial difficulties” he recounts in total agony.
Officials of the national engineering pool, Matgenie have been accused of abandoning their workers when they sustain injuries while at work.
According to Toko Peter, a mechanic at Matgenie, “I spent several weeks in the hospital and footed the bills myself with no compensation from the company. This is against our right as workers”.
To Ngwa Richard who has served as a worker at Matgenie for over 15 years, the company no longer pays pension to workers that go on retirement. “When we go on retirement it is like real hell on earth. First, while in service as now they don’t pay our salary regularly. When they eventually pay, money is deducted and saved at the national insurance fund (CNPS) but once on retirement, Matgenie cannot show proofs of haven deposited the money for their former workers to use”.
These grievances the workers say have been tabled to the labour office several times. They have equally written to the senior divisional officer for Wouri and the governor of the Littoral region announcing their strike action.
Contacted on phone by Mimi Mefo Info, the chief of service for Matgenie company in the Littoral region acknowledges the validity of all the grievances of the workers. According to Michel Talla “their money has been deposited in the treasury in Yaounde but I don’t understand why the money have not been paid to the workers throughout the national territory. I am in charge of Douala.This means it is only the director of Matgenie in Yaounde that can explain the delay in the process of payment”.
It is due to this situation of close to one year of unpaid salaries that workers of Matgenie say they will start an indefinite strike throughout Cameroon from Monday 27th April 2020. “We are starting the strike on Monday by blocking all activities in the company. We don’t know when we will stop. We want all our money paid before we will go back to work” Nkoulou Ze Walter Siegfried told Mimi Mefo Info.
Demands of these workers are coming a few days to the celebration of international labour day. On the day, workers reflect on work conditions and see what can be ameliorated.
As the workers condemn the minister of public works for abandoning the company, their plea is for President Paul Biya to intervene and give instructions for the workers to be paid.
Mimi Mefo Info.