MICAT employees protest for salaries
By Kruah Thompson
Some disenchanted employees at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) have been protesting to press home their demand for salaries increment.
Last week, the employees under the banner MICAT Workers Association protested against alleged bad labor practices, low wages, and other benefits.
They called on the government to do a payroll audit at MICAT to remove alleged ghost names from the ministry’s payroll.
The protesting MICAT employees accused the administration of the institution of owning luxurious properties amid alleged recent cuts in their salaries by the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP.)
Reading a statement on behalf of the protesting MICAT employees on Thursday, 10 November 2022, Mr. Jamuel Kullie, Secretary General of the Association, told journalists that they are requesting a full payroll audit.
Kullie said they want a physical headcount per unit or department for alleged fraud, double dipping, and ghost names.
He lamented alleged bad labor practices, no career growth for employees, an unhealthy working environment, lack of transportation for employees, and poor management, among other challenges that workers are facing at the ministry.
Since the beginning of the Weah administration, the only bus responsible for transporting employees at the ministry has deteriorated.
Kullie revealed that they have had a series of meetings with the administration, but those meetings did not yield fruits.
He said they resolved to wear black to let the Liberian people know what is happening to workers at the ministry.
The MICAT employees call on the government, particularly the Civil Service Agency, the Ministry of Labor, and other authorities to look into their complaints.
According to them, the challenges they face have the propensity to undermine the already low fertility levels in the economy.
For his part, Daniel S. David, a photo editor assigned at the Executive Mansion, said most of them are tired of the situation.
He recommended that a payroll committee including the workers association, the administration, and the Civil Service Agency be set up to scrutinize and solve the salary problem at MICAT.
David suspects that there are ghost names on the payroll and that is the reason why it has been kept a secret by the administration.
“There are people on the payroll that are not in existence, but [have been] used by the administration to collect money,” he alleged.
David indicated that when the Liberia News Agency (LINA), a project of the Government, was added to the MICAT payroll during the harmonization process, most of the names that were included on the list were allegedly fake.
He alleged that because of that, there are people in the ministry taking two to three salaries on those ghosts’ names.
Another employee at the ministry, Musu Boikai also said they are earning low salaries and wages to the tune of US$40, $50, $60, and sometimes $70, while others are taking US$45.
She added that they have engaged the administration on several occasions concerning the pay issue, but Minister Ledgehood J. Reenie has allegedly not responded.
She said this has been ongoing for close to five years now.
Additionally, Joshua D. Cooper explained that they deserve better than what they are getting.
“We can not be working and not able to take our children to ice cream shop like other officials of the ministry,” Cooper lamented.
He claimed that the salary is insufficient to sustain their families. He said they are appealing to the government to see a reason to increase their pay.
As he spoke, his colleagues held banners with the inscription “Professional people deserve better pay.”
Other banners read: “Disparities in Salary is a disease and stop the class system at workplace MICAT.”
They warned that they will go nowhere unless MICAT agrees to increase their pay.
The administration promised a redress in the soonest possible time.
Receiving the position statement on behalf of the MFDP, Mr. Dell Francis Wreh assured the group that by Monday, they will sit in a close meeting to dialogue in finding the solution to the problem.
He said the statement will be taken to the necessary authority to go through all of what had been listed.
Mr. Wreh encouraged the protesters to be patient and meet Monday to have the final dialogue.