One of the candidates in the just ended Salala Agricultural Workers Union or SAWU’s election under the Salala Rubber Corporation or SRC, Edwin Diggs alarms of alleged malpractices from the process.
Mr. Diggs, who abstained from the electoral process, also accuses the man who got elected as Chairman of SAWU, Oldman D. Kollie of being unqualified for the poll as well as accusing Margibi County Labor Commissioner, Anthony Opa Moses, the outgoing chairman, of meddling in the election.
He says Mr. Moses is creating alleged conflict of interest by being in the employ of the company, while refusing to recues himself from serving as chairman of SAWU despite his appointment as Labor Commissioner.
Mr. Diggs, a former Secretary General for SAWU, who has served for about two terms, angrily walked out of the election hall on July 2, 2018 and quickly called reporters to make his allegations.
According to him, the Ad-hoc election commission, Ministry of Labor and the General Allied Agricultural and Workers Union or GAAWU that handled the election were bought, so they connived to carry on irregularities. He did not however say bought by whom.
But he blames them for refusing to honor his request for all candidates, who went in the race to present their credentials.Mr. Diggs continues that the process was turned against him because he has always been vocal in the interests of the workers, noting that he is also uncovering some hidden agendas in the company that some of his colleagues are allegedly aware but comfortable with thus, making him a target.
According to him, it has got to do with rice ration, which he says SRC is not treating workers well about. Diggs explains a 50 Kg bag of rice that is sold by a Fulani businessman for US$27 is being issued to workers of the company for US$29 dollars.
When contacted, Mr. Anthony Opa Moses only told reporters “The workers can relate.”Reacting to his allegation, Mr. Oldman Kollie who overwhelmingly won the election says he is not going to follow Diggs’ claims but he is going to follow and do what is right. Mr. Kollie notes that since 2004 he has served in the union under the same guideline that was used to conduct the 2018 election.
He says the Union’s constitution requires that any employee who is a due payer and has worked with the company for four years can contest for position in SAWU.
Mr. Kollie says he applied and was qualified as per the guidelines set up by the ad-hoc commission that conducted the election, referring Mr. Diggs to the SRC School System to find out about his education because one of the requirements in the guideline says a 9th grade student and above.
The chairman-elect notes that he introduced Mr. Edwin Diggs to the Union about several years ago but the former secretary general is only making the comments against him because he was not favor by the voters.
He says it is based on his experience and hard work that led the workers to prefer him as their next chairman.He narrates that despite the accusation against him by his friend and brother Diggs, he as chairman of the union will guide Mr. Diggs and will protect his interest, noting that when one asks Mr. Diggs in the next two weeks; he will speak differently about him (Mr. Oldman Kollie) and all of the things he is talking.
Mr. Diggs maintains he is still a member of the leadership naming others including: Mr. David O. Dennis as Co-Chair, Mr. Raymond H. Willie as Secretary General, Mr. James Rambo as Grievance Chair and Mrs. Mary Boima as Financial Secretary. Mr. Kollie said his administration is going to closely work with Mr. Diggs to carry the union forward and seek the interest of the workers.
Emmanuel Kabakollie of the Ministry of Labor who represented the trade union division of the ministry during the election says none of the accused was found in the hall during the election, so the claims of compromise are baseless.
By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi–Editing by Jonathan Browne