MASERU – A Tanzanian dentist was two weeks ago ordered to pay M11 000 to a Filipino doctor by the Directorate of Dispute Prevention and Resolution (DDPR).
The Filipino doctor, Melgy Tee Sy, took Dr Ezekiel Dangwa Midamba, to the DDPR following a dispute over pay and severance package.
Dr Midamba runs Maseru Dental Service.
Sy said last week that she met Midamba and his optometrist wife, Dr Marlie Dangwa, in the Philippines sometime in 2007. Sy’s friend, Dr Jenny Marcelo who is an optometrist, was also offered a job in Lesotho at a surgery run by Midamba’s wife.
The two were offered monthly salaries of US$1 000 each.
Sy said they were also promised free accommodation and free air tickets from the Philippines to Lesotho as well as return tickets home at the end of their contract.
Sy said a month after they arrived in Lesotho the Midambas arbitrarily changed their employment contracts.
“My first payment was M5 000 which was far from the US$1000 we had agreed upon whilst in Philippines,” Sy said in a six-page document seen by the Lesotho Times.
She alleged that Midamba promised to review the salary “in the near future”.
She alleged that she never received her salary in full but was paid in instalments “according to the clients’ payments to the company”.
Sy also alleged that working conditions at the Midamba surgery were poor as they were forced to work nine hours a day only resting on Saturdays.
She said they were forced to work on Sundays but were not being paid for the weekend duty.
“We did question our employer around the issue of unpaid Sunday overtime, holiday’s overtime. We even wrote a letter collectively as staff about this issue,” she said.
“We were only given M50 as allowance for (working on) Sundays,” she said.
She claimed that she had worked for 83 Sundays without payment and had been prejudiced a total of M20 431 in unpaid overtime. Sy said their stay in Lesotho had failed to meet their expectations.
“We were accommodated at Friebel Estates next to Lesotho Sun, staying two in a room,” Sy said.
Sy alleged that sometime in April last year Midamba told her to sign a “salary book” claiming that she was earning only M2 000 a month.
She alleged that this was meant to evade the payment of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax to the Lesotho Revenue Authority. Sy’s two-year contract ended on 17 April 2009.
Sy said she was stunned when she realised that Midamba wanted to give her M828 only as her terminal benefits.
“I have never been so flabbergasted, dismayed and angry all rolled into one in my entire life, as inside the envelope there was M828 only,” she said.
Sy, with the help of a textile trade unionist, Shaw Lebakae, wrote to Midamba claiming M34 739 in unpaid salary, overtime and leave pay.
Midamba wrote back saying Lebakae, as a textile trade unionist, had no business getting involved in the health sector.
Lebakae and Sy then appealed to the Maseru District Labour Officer Molebatsi Koalepe who wrote a letter summoning Midamba for a hearing.
“He refused to accept the letter and told me that I was expected to leave the country the following day or else he would set the police on me for forging the contract of employment that did not have his letterhead,” Sy said.
Sy then filed an application at the DDPR claiming M34 739 in unpaid salary and severance pay.
She claimed M6 000 as her salary for April, M2 769 for 10 days’ leave while M5 538 was for severance pay.
She also claimed M20 431 for the 83 Sundays that she said she had worked during her two-year contract.
On 18 May the DDPR ruled that Midamba pay Sy M11 000.
“The parties agree to settle the dispute as follows: The respondent company has undertaken to pay applicant a sum of M11 000 in full between 29 May and 7 June 2009.
“The money shall be paid at DDPR (Accounts Office) – Maseru,” said the settlement agreement seen by the Lesotho Times.
Contacted for comment on the matter yesterday, Midamba declined to speak to the press.