Communication in the possession of this paper indicates the Management of APM Terminals has snubbed Labor Minister Cllr. Charles Gibson’s mandate to left suspension of 24 employees of the company.
The communication dated March 19, 2021, from Minister Gibson’s office states, “By directive of the Minister of Labour, Cllr. Charles Gibson, you are hereby instructed to halt all ongoing investigations of the 24 suspended employees; growing out of their alleged involvement in the strike action of September 2020 at the company’s premises in the Freeport of Monrovia. Meanwhile, pending further actions by the Ministry of Labour, all affected employees are to return to work and be allowed to carry out their duties as prescribed in their respective employment contracts.”
However, speaking to this paper Thursday, March 25, 2021, the president of the APM Terminals Liberia Workplace Representative Ballah Kpadeh said, following the minister’s communication to the management, he (Ballah) and his colleagues had gone to resume work last Monday as usual and in compliance with the letter from the Minister but the APM Terminals Management resisted their entry into its premises at the Freeport of Monrovia.
The letter of complaint sent to Minister Gibson states, “It is with a heavy heart we write to inform you that as per your communication dated March 19, 2021, which states that all 24 suspended employees of APM Terminals Liberia should resume work in good faith based on their employment contract. Predicated on the above, the workers went to work early morning of March 24, and were denied entry by the management stated herein.”
APM Terminals is a foreign company that manages the Freeport of Monrovia through commercial activities of the port.
Since last year 24 employees of the company were suspended for time indefinite for reportedly participating in strike action against the company. Both the Labour Ministry and the Liberian Senate have tried to resolve the matter, but to avail.
In October 2020, the Liberian Senate in an unusual angry mood ordered the Secretary of the Senate to summon the Management of APM Terminals to answer why it should not be held in contempt of the Liberian Legislature.
The motion, proffered by the chairman of the Committee on Executive, Senator Saah Joseph, and angrily supported by Pro-tempore Albert Chie, followed a hearing report by the Committee on Labor and Judiciary.
The complaint was authored by Senator Abraham Darius Dillon against alleged unfair labor practices by the company against the Dock Workers’ Union.
In findings of the two committees read before the Senate plenary on Wednesday, October 7, 2020, it was observed that the Dock Workers Union’s complaint was serious and that several efforts were made with the Minister of Labor, but to no avail, as ruling from hearing officers at the Ministry of Labor was not adhered to by the APM Terminals, as collective bargaining agreement between the company and the Dock Workers Union had long expired. Accordingly, the management is operating on its handbook. Editing by Jonathan Browne