Following several days of go-slow by workers of China Union in Bong Mines, Bong County with the Minister of Labor describing their action as illegal, the President of the China Union Company Workers Union Kesselee Sumo, says they remain resolute with the decision of the go-slow as long as their demands are not met.
The over 435 employees are demanding that their plight must be addressed by management before they can resume work. Wednesday, May 6, 2015 marked sixth day of the strike.
Speaking to reporters in Bong Mines on Tuesday, May 5th, Kesselee said decision to continue the go-slow is prompted by comments by the Minister of Labor Neto Zarzar Lighe’ that the industrial action of the workers is illegal.
According to him, he had sent representatives to meet with Minister Lighe` but they returned with a report quoting the Labor boss as describing their protest as illegal.
Kesselee said he was disappointed in Minister Lighe` because he had earlier sent a delegation from the ministry to dialogue with the workers and it was agreed that the Labour Ministry would meet management to find remedy to their problems before end of April, but to no avail.
He further narrated that the workers were even told by the representatives from the Ministry of Labor in a meeting that before April ends, they should do anything if their concerns were not addressed by the China Union Management, adding that the time has long overdue as everything that was signed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement among the company, government and the employees has been abandoned by China Union.
Kesselee said the statement by the Labour Minister confirms boast by the China Union Management that the Government of Liberia is in their pocket and so they can do anything with the workers and go with impunity.
The Workers Union President noted that the current go-slow is not the first, maintaining that they will continue until their demands are met, no matter any threatening statement from any government official to them as they would remain peaceful in their struggle for better conditions at work.
He said in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed, they (workers) are to benefit salary increment, promotion of qualified Liberians to top managerial positions, provision of PPEs and health benefits, among others, but the management has reneged on these commitments.
Kesselee said they also requested the China Union Management to pay an amount of $US150.00 as school fees for three dependents of each employee.
All of these, he said the company has failed to fulfill and continues to pay deaf ears and blind eyes to the well being of the workers.
Giving instances, Kesselee said on one occasion, the company deliberately prepared food for the workers in a pot made from rusty iron, but they rejected the meal because of safety reason.
He added that the company also erected a water hand pump in its operational areas because the Chinese only drink hot water, which is causing the Liberian staff to go in search of drinking water during working hours.
All efforts made by The NewDawn correspondent in Margibi to get to China Union Management was unsuccessful as the company’s Public Relations Officer, Morris Tate, harshly told reporters that it was impossible to get the management’s side on claims by the workers.
By Ramsey N. Singbeh, Jr. in Margibi