UNLIKE people who do casual work and get their wages or payments on agreed time or date after completing work given to them by those who hire them, those who do piece work have to be paid according to the amount of work they have done and they have to be paid as soon as they have completed the piece work.
Although there are institutions which engage piece workers, it is usually individuals such as farmers and those who are building who need the services of piece workers.
Once the piece workers finish their work, they expect to be paid there and then and there is no negotiations on when they would be paid.
But there are times when the people who hire the piece workers fail to honour their obligations due to circumstances beyond their control and promise to pay them later.
Many times the piece workers resort to violecet if they are not paid immediately they finish their work and they demand that they be paid or else there would be trouble.
Recently, I was at a drinking place known as the Last Stop in Ndola’s Chifubu Township.
I was at this place with a friend having a few drinks. Next to our table were five men who were drinking some opaque Chibuku Shake Shake and another type of plastic bottled chibuku, commonly known as kantobo.
One of the men had a big bottle of Eagle Lager and a small bottle of brandy.
I was wondering how some people could mix such strong drinks when I heard someone in their company start yelling and pointing at the man who was drinking Eagle Lager and brandy saying he needed the money he had done piece work for.
The man who was shouting was much older than the other man.
“Give me the money I have worked for. I can’t wait for tomorrow. You have paid others and you have to pay me now,” shouted the man.
Looking embarrassed and disappointed, the man who was being shouted told the old man that he had not refused to pay him, it was just that the ATM (Automated Teller Machine) was not working.
But the old man insisted that he be paid for the piece of work he had done and there was no need for the man to be using the ATM as an excuse.
“You paid all of them at the farm. You told me that you will pay me after withdrawing the money from the ATM here in Chifubu. Teti ulande ati ATM tailebomba (you can’t say the ATM is not working),” insisted the old man.
The man shook his head and started to explain to the man that it was not deliberate that he could not pay him, it was just that it seemed there was no money in ATM.
Despite all the explanation the man did, the old man could not agree that there was no money in the ATM.
“Bamudala tamuli impiya mu ATM. Nkamipela nangu mailo” (Big man there is no money in the ATM. I will give you even tomorrow) the man pleaded.
“Ulemona kwati nalishishita?Teti mukane ukuba impiya muli ATM,”(You think I am dull? There can never be no money in the ATM) You think I don’t know how the ATM works? You are telling lies,” insisted the old man.
As the quarrelling between the two men heated up, one of the men in their group who had just been listening joined in and asked the man who was being shouted at what the problem was.
It was then that the man started to explain what had happened.
According to the man, he had gone to the farm with the old man who was the elder brother to the man whose son married his elder brother’s (the man who was being shouted) daughter (father-in-law).
The man said he usually went to the farm with the old man and he always paid him immediately he did piece work at the farm.
“ Ba pongoshi aba ba mudala (this man is my father-in-law) He is the elder brother to the man whose son married my brother’s daughter. I usually go with him to the farm to work and I always pay him. I am surprised he is behaving like this today,” complained the man.
As the man was complaining, the old man was getting more agitated.
The other man then asked the man who was being shouted at which ATM he told him it was the ZANACO ATM which was just behind this drinking place.
“I use the ZANACO ATM, but it seems there is no money there. I have gone there three times with this man and he has seen that I am unable to withdraw the money.
The other man then advised him to try the FNB ATM which was just opposite to the bar since he had an electron visa card.
When the man said there was no need for the old man to worry since they were always together and he would give him the money the next day once the ATM was replenished, the old man refused saying the ATM always had money.
“How does the story of the ATM come in. He paid everyone at the farm and he told me he would pay me when we got to Chifubu,” said the old man.
The man then said the money he had was just enough to pay those people who stay near his farm who had come to do piece work and since the old man stayed in Chifubu, he intended to pay him after withdrawing from the ATM but unfortunately there was no money in the machine.
As the old man became more furious, the other man persuaded the man who was being shouted at to just go and try the FNB ATM.
The man gave in and reluctantly walked to the FNB ATM. About 15 minutes later, he came back waving a wad of notes. He extracted a K100 note and gave it to the old man.
After giving the old man the money, he told him to vacate his company.
Smiling ear to ear, the old man left and went to the counter and bought himself a big bottle of Eagle Lager and a bottle of Kantobo and when he came back, he sat somewhere alone.
Then I heard a man from another table comment that the old man was just impatient because he always saw him drinking with the man he was shouting.
“He doesn’t know that ATMs usually run out of money or they could be faulty,” said the man.
I wondered what could have happened if the FNB ATM had also run out of money.
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