Minister of Labour Eunice Makangala on Tuesday failed to break the deadlock at Mota-Engil railway construction camp in Neno in southern Malawi where workers are staging a sit in.
The workers downed tools on Monday demanding increased wages and that Thais at the company should be sent packing.
Makangala went into the negotiating room with workers and management representatives into Tuesday’s meeting.
The meeting ended at 5pm, but the workers refused to report to work today pending further discussions.
About 300 Thais are said to have arrived in the country three weeks ago, as part of the Mota-Engil acceleration on the works to achieve the ambitious milestone set to the construction of the $1 billion Kachaso to Nkaya railway link.
The company’s contract manager, Joao Neto, in recent a circular to employees at the camp, said as part of the acceleration already going on, more equipment was mobilised and night shifts started on many work fronts; hence, more employees were required.
But the pronouncement has riled the 3 000 workers accusing the company of bringing in casual labourers that are replacing Malawians.
On the Thais, Makangala said the foreigners will be repatriated in phases starting with a group of 21 who have no skills required at the construction company.
“The other group of Thais with experience will leave after training Malawians so they take over their jobs,” she said.
Meanwhile, negotiations resume today (Tuesday).