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Labor Ministry should intervene now or else…

Liberia may have been declared Ebola-free on May 9, 2015 by the World Health Organization or WHO, but the problems accompanying such ‘freedom’ remain un-ending.

Apart from the country’s poor health system, as well as unacceptable well-being and health of Ebola survivors, the issue of settling ‘benefits and other financial obligations’ to health workers and others, who worked at various Ebola Treatment Units across the country remain unresolved.

Despite assurances and commitment from the Government of Liberia, there seems to be no sign of resolution to these matters. Even private companies subcontracted by the government and non-governmental and international organizations may be in such quagmire with ETU workers.

Like others working at ETU’s in Monrovia and its environs, reports recently had it that more than One Hundred aggrieved employees of an Ebola Treatment Unit or ETU in Bopolu, Gbarpolu County in Western Liberia have threatened to engage in a protest/strike action, if the Ministry of Labour did not intervene to address their concerns.

One of the concerns of the workers is the deduction of between US$84.00 to US$100.00 from their monthly wages by the management of Boyasay Incorporated, sub-contracted by the Pacific Architecture Engineering or PAE.

The ETU workers claimed that their management had told them since December 28, 2014 that the deductions from their monthly salaries without pay slips (under the guise of income tax and social security at the rate of 18-percent) represented housing, transportation and hazard benefits. A total of US$8,568.00 was deducted each month for seven months, totalling US$59,976.00.

With the closure and demolition of the ETU, serious concerns continue to be raised about the workers’ benefits, considering the very limited time left for the end of their contracts.

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Even though an executive of the company- Mulbah Dwana, declined to comment on the claims, the need for the prompt intervention of the Ministry of Labor is important.

While some institutions may want to use the similar situation faced by health and other ETU workers with the government – represented by the Ministry of Health and Incidence Management System to score some financial capital, the immediate intervention of the Labor Ministry would discourage such behavior (if, and only if, it is actually confirmed) and thwart any protest/strike action as in the case of the ETU workers in Bopolu, Gbarpolu County.

We appeal to the ministry to swiftly act now as a way of reducing the tension so that we will not only have labor unrest, but a repeat of the unfortunate ‘Butaw situation’ in Sinoe County between citizens and Golden Veroleum Liberia.

It is always better for pre-emptive and preventive actions when such concerns are expressed by workers than to wait until ‘hell breaks loose’- a situation sometimes used to pursue other negative interests.

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