African Press International (API)

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Are Polish people suffering in the hands of Norwegians?

Posted by African Press International on March 13, 2008

Building boss denies he exploited workers

The head of a construction firm in Tnsberg returned from holiday this week to fend off strong accusations from state and local officials that he has seriously exploited workers from Poland, violated occupational safety rules and over-billed public agencies. Harald Langemyhr claims he hasn’t done anything wrong.

Construction firm owner Harald Langemyhr denies he exploited Polish workers at his firm’s job sites.

PHOTO: SVEIN ERIK FURULUND

Harald Langemyhr (far right) met some of his Polish workers in Tnsberg, and denied their housing was as bad as authorities said.

PHOTO: SVEIN ERIK FURULUND

“We believe we can document over-billing,” the head of Omsorgsbygg (the municipal agency that owns, manages and develops buildings used for social welfare purposes in Oslo) told newspaper Aftenposten this week.

Per Morten Johansen of Omsorgsbygg believes Langemyhr has over-billed the city in connection with its construction of both a day care center at Sinsen and a nursing home at kern.

Some of Langemyhr’s Polish workers, meanwhile, have claimed that “large amounts” of construction materials were transported from the city’s building sites in Oslo to the site of a villa that Langemyhr is building for himself in Tnsberg, about a 90-minute drive south of Oslo.

“That’s not right,” said Langemyhr.

Several of his workers also claimed they worked on his villa’s building site, but were told to submit timecards saying they’d worked at the city’s building sites.

“That’s certainly not right,” claimed Langemyhr.

Neither he nor his staff have been willing to defend their claims in detail, but say they’re prepared to do so for the state and local authorities. They were ordered to submit documentation by noon on Wednesday.

When asked about the alleged over-billing, Langemyhr’s project leader Gustav Winge said he hadn’t been informed by Omsorgsbygg that it was holding back NOK 6 million in payments until its questions were resolved over bills submitted by Langemyhr.

“Such discussions about billing are not abnormal in the building branch,” Winge said.

Newspaper Aftenposten reported Wednesday that its reporter witnessed piles of documents being shredded at Langemyhr’s offices on Tuesday. No explanation was given for the document destruction.

Charges of worker exploitation against Langemyhr emerged late last week. State and local authorities claim workers from Poland were seriously underpaid, found to be living in overcrowded and unsafe housing and that their pay was being docked every month for the substandard living conditions.

That indicates Langemyhr also profited on the workers’ poor housing, since they collectively paid as much as NOK 10,000 (nearly USD 2,000) a month to live in a container, and NOK 200,000 to live in a house deemed unsafe by local authorities.

Published by Korir, API africanpress@getmail.no source.aftenposteneng

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